Saturday, November 23, 2013

Governor McDonnell Announces Important Milestone to Advance Interstate 66 Improvements

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English: The state seal of Virginia.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tier 1 EIS approved by Feds; Commonwealth Transportation Board to select one or more concepts next month

RICHMOND - Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that the first step in making major improvements to one of the most congested corridors in the Commonwealth has been approved. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has issued a record of decision on the 25-mile Tier 1 environmental impact statement (EIS) study of Interstate 66 from the Capital Beltway to Haymarket, clearing the way for the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) to select one or more of the final ten concepts for detailed analysis.

“Today’s approval of the I-66 Tier 1 EIS gives us the green light to move forward with finding the best short and long-term solutions,” said Governor McDonnell. “I-66 drivers sit in frustrating stop-and-go traffic on a daily basis with unpredictable travel times and few alternate options.  Getting I-66 moving again has been one of our top priorities, and I am pleased that we have reached this milestone.”

Earlier this year, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) identified 10 concepts to increase capacity within the corridor, as well as options to increase travel mode choices, improve individual interchanges, address spot safety needs, and enhance travel efficiency.

Concepts include adding general purpose lanes, constructing managed lanes (similar to the 495 Express Lanes and the future 95 Express Lanes), extending Metrorail and/or VRE, constructing light rail and/or bus rapid transit, improving chokepoints, intermodal connectivity, and safety and  intelligent transportation system enhancements.

“Advancing I-66 improvements is critical to the quality of life for commuters,” said Transportation Secretary Sean T. Connaughton.  “The Commonwealth is working aggressively to provide better travel options in a heavily congested area so commuters can save time and cost.”

The CTB will select one or more of the concepts for study and VDOT will begin the Tier 2 analysis this spring and will complete it within two years.

“Moving forward, we will continue to work closely with local governments and communities to ensure an open and transparent process,” said VDOT Commissioner Greg Whirley.

“I-66 improvements are critical to providing a better transportation facility for all commuters and travelers,” said DPRT Director Thelma Drake.  “The Commonwealth will continue to explore a wide range of options, including rail improvements.”

Public meetings were held in June 2011, and January and February of 2012. VDOT and DRPT hosted public hearings on Tier 1 Draft in March 2013.

More information on the study is available in the link below:
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