Do you address the traffic congestion on one of the D.C. region’s main highways by widening it or by getting some commuters to leave their cars behind?
Public meetings in May illustrate the choice that Virginia has made: a bit of both.
The meetings are about widening Interstate 66 along four miles of its route inside the Capital Beltway and about picking programs that would provide better bus service, support park-and-ride services, improve travel information and enhance bike-sharing services.
The administration of Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) had planned to see how those out-of-the-car options worked in combination with the high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes traffic-management system before deciding on whether to widen I-66. In a compromise with the Virginia General Assembly, construction of the wider highway inside the Beltway is to begin in 2018, with an opening late in 2019. HOT lanes tolling is scheduled to begin in 2017.
It will take years to figure out what effect all these plans have on traffic and on one another.
Here are the basics about the four public meetings, including one on Thursday night.
Northern Virginia Transportation Commission
The commission is the public panel charged by the state with picking the out-of-the-car projects. The goals, as stated by the commission, are to “move more people, enhance transportation connectivity, improve transit service, reduce roadway congestion and increase travel options.” See a list on this page of the 19 projects and programs under consideration.
The NVTC is holding two hearings in May before it settles on projects at its June 2 meeting.
May 5. The session begins with an open-house discussion at 6 p.m., followed by the public hearing at 7 p.m. The hearing will be in the NVTC main floor conference room, 2300 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. The nearest Metrorail station is Court House.
May 18. The NVTC decided to add a second public hearing. This session also begins with an open-house discussion, at 4:30 p.m., followed by the hearing at 6 p.m. The location is Reston Station, 1904 Reston Metro Plaza, Reston. This is on the north side of the Silver Line’s Wiehle-Reston East station.
The public comment period continues till close of business on May 23. People who want to speak at the Thursday night session can register in person from 6 to 7 p.m. For in-person registration at the May 18 hearing, the time period is 4:30 to 6 p.m.
Here’s the contact information for the NVTC: Mail to 2300 Wilson Blvd., Suite 620, Arlington, VA 22201; email to firstname.lastname@example.org; phone 703-NVTC-321 (703-688-2321).
Virginia Department of Transportation
VDOT plans to hold two public meetings next week to discuss the widening of eastbound I-66 between the Dulles Connector Road (Route 267) and the ramp to the Fairfax Drive exit, four miles away. These aren’t formal public hearings, but people can tell VDOT officials what they think of the project.
VDOT will set up display boards where staffers will explain different aspects of the widening. People can ask questions and offer comments. The two sessions will include formal presentations on the project, to address such central issues as its purpose, the required environmental assessment, the design and the schedule for the widening project. The formal presentations will be at 7 each night. The entire sessions, including the discussions at the display panels, are set for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
May 9. Washington-Lee High School, 1301 N. Stafford St., Arlington.
May 11. Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School, 7130 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church.