U.S. District Judge Oren R. Lewis has dismissed a legal challenge to the extension of Interstate Rte. 66 inside the Capital Beltway, calling the lawsuit, filed by a citizens group, "vicious and scurrilous."
CONTACT, a Northern Virginia citizens group, had claimed in the suit that a right of way wide enough to permit an eight-lane highway is being cleared for the highway, although federal officials say the new 9.7-mile stretch of I-66 from the Beltway to the Potomac River must be limited to four lanes.
Earlier this week, CONTACT members testified in federal court in Alexandria that Virginia highway officials are ignoring a 1975 directive by then-transportation secretary William Coleman and clearing a right way that will permit future expansion to eight lanes.
Deputy Virginia Attorney General Walter McFarland denied that an "expandable highway" is being built, saying "we have no plans to widen the road at this point in time." He said the wide right of way is being cleared for safety reasons.
Judge Lewis ruled he had heard no evidence to sustain CONTACT's allegations' during two days of testimony. He dismissed the suit and ordered CONTACT to pay court costs, estimated to be about $100.
Richard E. Crouch, attorney for CONTACT, said an appeal is planned.