It Takes 25 Years to Widen a 1.5 Mile Stretch of Road in Virginia

For years, commuters on I-66 in Northern Virginia have had to put up with heavy congestion due to bottlenecked merge lanes onto the two-lane interstate. A simple way to reduce congestion would be to widen the highway, adding a third lane on I-66 all the way to the Beltway. But the widening debate has dragged on in various forms since 1982. Yesterday, the regional transportation panel approved funding for an additional lane that would stretch along the first 1.5 miles of Westbound I-66. The Washington Post reports:

A regional transportation panel reversed itself yesterday, approving funding to widen the first 1.5-mile stretch of westbound Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway.

The move reversed a decision by the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board last month to strip the $75 million project from the region’s transportation plan.

It has taken many years to move this very small project (widening 1.5 miles in one direction) forward. And this is a project that could make a significant improvement in mobility. Additional road projects needed along I-66 inside the Beltway could take many more years to be approved and built. If we are ever going to solve the mobility issues in the nation’s most congested cities, we need to find a better and faster way to move the projects forward.