You may have heard the announcement this morning that VDOT is planning to move ahead with adding tolls on I-66 and is also pushing ahead with widening the highway inside the Beltway, which is a change from the Governor’s original proposal last year. Like many of you, I am concerned about the impact that this widening will have on Arlington’s environment and on our roads.
I will continue to work hard with colleagues in Arlington and leaders in the administration in Richmond to ensure that the impact on Arlington is as small as possible. I will push VDOT to study the impact of its changes on our local roads so that the streets we use to get around are not clogged with toll-avoiding traffic, and I will continue my push for integrated, regional bus rapid transit so that commuters to Arlington and DC have reliable alternatives to their cars. We also will explore opportunities to acquire the air rights over I-66 to construct fields and park space or other public uses, improving our environment and stitching our community back together.
The following is the statement that I put out this morning on behalf of my colleagues on the County Board:
“We are disappointed with the news of the amended plan for I-66, which will immediately widen I-66. We respect that Governor McAuliffe and his administration worked hard to protect the earlier plan, which delayed the widening of I-66 until we had several years’ worth of experience with multimodal solutions. We appreciate that — aside from the decision to widen immediately — many of the original elements remain intact:
- Toll revenue is dedicated to multimodal improvements;
- NVTC (our region’s transit agency) receives the toll revenue;
- Local governments retain the authority to spend these funds on local projects; and
- Any widening occurs within existing right-of-way.
As the new plan moves forward, Arlington will be vigilant, working to ensure that appropriate environmental analyses are completed efficiently and comprehensively. We will do all we can to mitigate harm from the widening, and we will explore possible improvements to accompany the widening. As always. Arlington will be working to promote improved regional transit. We need frequent, reliable, and comfortable transit systems along the east-west corridor that get people quickly to where they want to go.”