The Virginia Department of Transportation's Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project is a public-private partnership that promises to add express lanes on Interstate 66, rebuild major interchanges on roadways carrying traffic to I-66, expand pedestrian/bicycle trails, and create thousands of new park-and-ride spaces. These changes will affect commuters in western Prince William County.
The project spans 22.5 miles of Interstate 66 between the Capital Beltway and US Highway 29 in Gainesville. According to the VDOT website, the project is designed to provide "safer, more reliable travel options for more people across Northern Virginia."
I-66 Express Lanes
The project includes two express lanes in either direction and three general-purpose lanes in each direction along I-66. FAM Construction, LLC will be constructing the project and is contractually obligated to have work completed by December 2022, according to FAM Spokesperson Nancy Smith.
Interference with daily traffic should be minimal since much of the work will be done at night and during off-peak hours, Smith said. "During peak periods, we're maintaining four lanes of traffic and the HOV lanes will maintain the HOV hours. We can have no closures during peak periods."
Balls Ford Road
In addition to the I-66 Express Lanes, Balls Ford Road will undergo major changes to enhance commuter traffic through Prince William County. Specifically, Balls Ford Road will be widened from two to four lanes between Groveton Road and Va. 234 Business (Sudley Road), and a new interchange at the Va. 234 Bypass will include the relocation of Balls Ford Road and a new bridge over the Norfolk Southern Railroad.
As part of the deal to build and operate the express lanes, I-66 Express Mobility Partners, who will operate the express lanes, gave $500 million to VDOT, of which $209 million will be used for the Balls Ford Road interchange and widening. During its April 10 meeting, the Board of County Supervisors allocated the funding for the projects. Design activities are scheduled to begin in May, and construction is expected to begin by 2020.
Commuter Parking Lots
The Transform I-66 Outside the Beltway project also includes two new commuter parking lots in Prince William County. One commuter lot, with roughly 1,200 spaces, will be constructed where University Boulevard, U.S. 29 and I-66 converge and should be completed by the summer of 2019, according to Smith.
The other commuter lot will be at the intersection of Balls Ford Road and Century Park Drive, which is a new road to be constructed to connect the newly widened Balls Ford Road and the I-66 Express Lanes. The new lot will have at least 1,189 parking spaces and is slated to expand to 1,535 spaces by 2040. Other parking lot amenities include real-time parking availability information, covered bicycle racks, lighting and security cameras.
Smith said work on the project that people can see now includes geotechnical testing to determine soil and rock conditions, which will help determine construction techniques. Utility surveys, to mark utility locations, are also underway.
People will be seeing more equipment on the road soon, Smith said. "In the next couple of weeks, depending on the weather, we'll be taking out the rumble strips along I-66; and then in the late May, early June time frame, we'll do a long-term lane shift on the main line, both east and westbound between US Highway 29 in Gainesville to about where the rest area is," Smith said. "By next summer, the entire corridor will be transitioned to a construction zone."
Learn more about the project at www.transform66.org.