The Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation today accepted a low bid of $9.6 million for construction of the first portion of the controversial Interstate Rte. 66 segment between the Capital Beltway and the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge.

A department spokesman said work is axpected to begin in about two weeks on a 1.4-mile section from the Betlway to Rte. 7, Leesburg Pike.

The entire I-66 segment inside the Betltway will be 9.6 miles long. The expressway has been delayed for years by the opposition of many Arlington residents. After once rejecting state plans for the road, the U.S. Department of Transportation finally approved a four-lane version limited to automobiles and restricted to car pools in the direction of commuter traffic during rush hours.

Virginia highway officials had hoped to begin to work on the road about two months ago, but the project was again delayed by a dispute over federal minimum pay scales for work on that portion of the right of way that will be used for Metroail tracks. The state finally persuaded federal officials it should not pay premium wages for that work.

Today's contract award went to James Julian, Inc., of Wilmington, Del. Seven bids were received. The high bid of hearings on I-66. the state estimated that the entire project will cost about $160 million.

When completed, I-66 will run from Washington to Strasburg, Va., where it will connect with Interstate Rte. 81 in the Shenandoah Valley.