The I-66 project zone covers 25 highly congested miles between the Capital Beltway and Route 15. (VDOT map)

The I-66 Corridor Coalition, a new group of community, transportation and environmental groups, is calling on the Virginia government to reopen a congestion-relief study for the interstate outside the Capital Beltway so that a broad range of options can be reconsidered.

That study was completed in 2013. The state now is in the midst of a second phase of the study focusing on a more specific plan to widen the highway between the Beltway and Haymarket so that it has three regular lanes and two high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes in each direction. That environmental review is scheduled for public hearings over two weeks in lane May and early June.

Here’s the text of the letter to Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne.

Dear Secretary Layne:
The recently formed I-66 Corridor Coalition shares many of the concerns expressed by U.S. Representatives Gerry Connolly (VA-11), Rob Wittman (VA-1), Don Beyer (VA-8), and Barbara Comstock (VA-10) in their recent joint letter to you on this subject. We commend their engagement in the planning for I-66 and we pledge to work with you, the delegation, VDOT, DRPT [Department of Rail and Public Transportation], and other partners and community members to develop and implement the best possible plan for communities and transportation in the I-66 corridor.

The I-66 Corridor Coalition is an alliance of environmental, transit, smart growth and bike advocates, residents, and community groups. We call for a more comprehensive analysis of the I-66 corridor that evaluates a full range of alternatives. We ask that I-66 be treated as part of a broader approach that addresses transportation, transit-oriented development, and neighborhood and environmental issues. We urge VDOT to plan for the future by using current projections on demographics, employment, transportation trends, and emerging choices in residence patterns.

We will support Virginia’s efforts to implement long-term solutions to transportation requirements in the I-66 corridor by working with local, county, state, federal, and NGO [non-governmental organizations] entities to incorporate high-capacity transit, improved biking and walking connections, and land use scenarios for more compact, mixed-use communities linked to transit and the preservation of existing contiguous neighborhoods. This approach addresses traffic congestion while maximizing value to taxpayers and reducing disruption of communities and our environment.

The I-66 project will have significant impacts on area transit, the environment, development and communities in the area, strongly influencing where and how we grow for the next 50 years, just as Metro and the Beltway have for the last 50. This is our opportunity to collaborate on a plan for better transit, a healthy environment, and livable communities, and we should invest the time and resources necessary to ensure we do it right. Therefore, we ask you to reopen the Tier 1 study on I-66 Outside the Beltway, to allow development of a better plan for the I-66 corridor.

Sincerely,

— Douglas Stewart, smart growth and transportation chair, Sierra Club, Virginia Chapter

— Tania Hossain, president, Providence District Council

— Stewart Schwartz, executive director, Coalition for Smarter Growth

— Stuart M Whitaker, founder, Transiters

— Sonya Breehey, Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling

— Kris Unger, primary conservator, Friends of Accotink Creek

See also
I-66 needs more than a widening

Consulting commuters on I-66 needs

I-66 study shows difficult road ahead for commuters

I-66 HOT lanes plan reviewed by regional panel

Double deck I-66? Travelers stack up against it.

Transform 66, the state’s Web site for the project