I-66 drivers, seen here on the westbound side near Vienna, have some of the worst commutes in the D.C. region. (Karen Bleier/AFP-Getty Images)

The Virginia state government has issued a call to the private sector for ideas on improving Interstate 66 outside the Capital Beltway. Those ideas may include converting the High Occupancy Lanes into express toll lanes similar to those now in use on the Beltway.

The ideas under consideration also include widening I-66 by adding regular travel lanes and creating a light rail bus rapid transit line in the median. The program also could improve interchanges, ease choke points and better manage traffic with enhanced traveler information.

Easing congestion on I-66 is one of the greatest challenges that transportation planners face in Northern Virginia. The ideas under review now focus on the 25-mile corridor between the Beltway and Route 15 in Haymarket.

Virginia transportation officials completed an environmental review that advances all these ideas for further consideration, but there’s a fairly long timeline on major changes

The invitation extended on Thursday by the Virginia Office of Transportation Public Private Partnerships is called a “Request for Information.” Information from the responses could be used to further develop projects, possibly through the state’s Public Private Transportation Act. Responses are due by Nov. 25.

Like Virginia, Maryland also is seeking ideas from the private sector in developing big transportation projects, though Maryland has focused on two light rail proposals: the Purple Line for the D.C. suburbs and the Red Line for Baltimore.

In Virginia, the 495 Express Lanes, the result of a public-private partnership, opened in November. A similar public-private program, the 95 Express Lanes are under construction and scheduled to open at the end of 2014.

See more background about the Request for Information on Virginia’s Web site for Interstate 66 Corridor Improvement Projects.