Interstate 66

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Interstate 66 connects I-81 near Strasburg, Virginia to the nation's capital along a 76.28-mile route. The freeway superseded Virginia Route 55 east from Strasburg to Gainesville and U.S. 29 from there east to Rosslyn, Virginia.

Interstate 66 varies between four and six lanes between the Capital Beltway (I-495) and the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge across the Potomac River into D.C. Within the Capital Beltway, I-66 operates as a toll road. The I-66 Express Lanes operate along the eastbound roadway weekdays between 5:30 and 9:30 AM and on the westbound roadway weekdays between 3:00 and 7:00 PM. Tolls vary depending on traffic congestion and are collected using E-ZPass transponders. HOV-2 eligible motorists can use Interstate 66 toll free with an E-ZPass Flex transponder set to HOV mode. The HOV-2 exemption changes to HOV-3 in 2022.

The I-66 Inside the Beltway Express Lanes commenced operations on December 4, 2017. They operate between I-495 and U.S. 29 in Rosslyn.1 West of the beltway, Interstate 66 carries six to eight lanes with the innermost lane restricted to HOV-2 eligible motorists during peak hours of travel. The Washington Metro Orange Line lines the median of I-66 west from Exit 71 at Ballston in Arlington to Exit 62 at Vienna.

The I-66 Outside the Beltway Express Lanes will extend 22.5 miles west from I-495 to University Boulevard and U.S. 29 (Lee Highway) in Gainesville. Part of $3.7 billion in transportation improvements, the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project got underway with right of way acquisition and construction in Spring 2018. Anticipated to open in December 2022, two Express Lanes will operate along side three General Purpose Lanes per direction.

A Park & Ride Lot was constructed adjacent to I-66 between U.S. 29 (Lee Highway) and University Boulevard as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project. With over 1,000 spaces, the lot opened on October 7, 2019.2 A second lot is being built along the extension of Century Park Drive north from Balls Ford Road to I-66/SR 234. Express Lane ramps will connect with University Boulevard, Century Park Drive, SR 28 (Sully Road), Stringfellow Road (SR 645), Monument Drive, U.S. 50, SR 123 (Chain Bridge Road), Vaden Drive and I-495.

All interchanges will be at least slightly modified as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project. Major changes are underway at SR 28, where a parclo interchange will be upgraded into a multi level exchange. The loop ramp from I-66 east to SR 123 (Chain Bridge Road) north and directional ramp from I-66 west to SR 123 south will be removed and replaced with signalized turns. The cloverleaf interchange with SR 243 (Nutley Street) will be converted into a diverging diamond interchange (DDI).

Interstate 66 Virginia Guides

Previous restrictions along Interstate 66 within the Capital Beltway only allowed HOV-3 traffic on all lanes during the morning and evening peak hours. There was also a period of time when the restriction was increased to HOV-4 eligible vehicles. The freeway-wide restriction was eventually lowered to HOV-2 for the morning inbound commute and HOV-2 for the evening outbound commute. This changed with the conversion of I-66 to a High Occupancy/Toll (HOT) road. In addition, a truck ban is in effect east of Interstate 495.

Although this is a fairly short route, the future aspirations of Interstate 66 were much greater. Additions to the national high priority corridor system in the early 2000s resulted in proposals to extend Interstate 66 west from Strasburg across the country via High Priority Corridor 3: Trans-America Corridor. Interstate 66 was actively promoted by the state of Kentucky, even appearing on issues of the Official Highway Map. I-66 into West Virginia was considered for Corridor H/U.S. 48 or along overlaps with I-81 and I-64 to reach Kentucky. Neither came to fruition, as Corridor H was developed as a mostly at-grade expressway.

Interstate 66 scenes
Virginia Route 243 (Nutley Street) south at the eastbound entrance ramp for I-66 to Arlington and Washington. Nutley Street meets the freeway at a cloverleaf interchange midway between Vienna and the Fairfax area (U.S. 29). 09/25/04

  1. "VDOT Northern Virginia District Office Open this Weekend to Help Drivers get E-ZPass ahead of Monday I-66 Inside The Beltway Express Lanes Opening." Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), news release. December 1, 2017.
  2. "New Park and Ride Lot Opens Monday, Oct. 7, on University Boulevard in Gainesville." Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), news release. October 4, 2019.

Photo Credits:

09/25/04 by AARoads

Connect with:
Interstate 81
Interstate 95
Interstate 495 / Capital Beltway
U.S. 17
U.S. 29

Page Updated 06-29-2020.

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