The controversial plan to add tolls on Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway won limited approval from the Arlington County Board on Thursday night, despite the county’s reluctance to open the way for an eventual widening of the congested commuter route.
The board, in a 3-to-2 vote, endorsed in concept the idea of a weekday, peak-period, peak-direction, dynamic toll plan, as long as the state meets several conditions, including a delay on widening the highway inside the Capital Beltway until 2025 at the earliest.
“What we have in front of us is a true compromise,” said board member Jay Fisette (D). ”If we don’t support this today, that compromise falls apart.”
The board for years has opposed widening I-66 inside the Beltway, as it runs through the northern side of the county. The board, in its resolution, said no road widening should be done until after a complete assessment of the project’s tolling, HOV-3 lanes and multimodal efforts are completed.
The county also wants the Virginia Department of Transportation to mitigate the effect of drivers who jump off I-66 and onto local streets in order to avoid tolls. VDOT should also promise to spend the toll revenue on efforts to relieve traffic by encouraging transit, ride-sharing and other multimodal efforts, and not to use the toll revenue to replace existing maintenance funds for the highway, the board’s resolution says.
The board also wants VDOT to make cost-effective investments in technologies to catch toll scofflaws.
Board members John Vihstadt (I) and Libby Garvey (D) voted no, saying that there were too many unresolved issues in the agreement.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board is set to take up the issue in early December. State officials want to formally adopt the plan by year’s end.