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New I-66 Express Lanes west of Centreville will open this weekend

The I-66 Express Lanes connecting Route 29 in Gainsville to Route 28 in Centreville are set to open this weekend, ahead of schedule.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) made the announcement Friday (Sept. 2), touting that the opening of the western part of its highway widening project will help congestion on I-66 “sooner than originally planned.”

“We are pleased to join our 66 Express Lanes project partners in opening the first segment of one of Virginia’s largest megaprojects ahead of schedule,” VDOT Commissioner Stephen Brich said in the press release. “By opening the western segment of the new 66 Express Lanes early, we are able to start delivering congestion relief to I-66 travelers sooner than originally planned.”

The 9-mile stretch of road opening this weekend connects the Route 28 interchange in Centreville to Prince William County. Officials said opening that section now will help motorists get used to the new traffic patterns before the rest of the lanes open later this year.

Extending to the Capital Beltway interchange in Dunn Loring, the remaining 13 miles of express lanes are scheduled to open by December.

“This is an important step in opening the new 66 Express Lanes, allowing customers to begin to experience the benefits that the new managed lanes and project enhancements will provide, and helping to ensure a great customer experience when the full corridor opens at the end of the year,” Javier Guiterrez, CEO for the private contractor I-66 Express Mobility Partners, said.

Overall, the nearly-complete $3.7 billion project mostly centered in Fairfax County will bring widened roads with toll lanes and potentially make room for mass transit projects, while also rebuilding a number of bridges spanning the highway.

There will also be 11 miles of shared-use trails between Fairfax and Prince William counties.

Work began in late 2017 and is expected to finish in mid-2023, though the remaining express lanes will open to traffic a few months prior to that.

I-66 will still have three general traffic, toll-free lanes in the eastbound and westbound directions. The project is adding two high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes in each direction.

Buses, carpoolers, and motorcyclists will be able to use those lanes for free, while all other motorists will pay a toll based on real-time traffic conditions. The lanes expand the 10 miles of toll lanes between the Beltway and D.C. that opened in 2017.

The project also includes the construction of dedicated on- and off-ramps at Route 234/Sudley Road, Route 28, and Braddock and Walney Roads. Drivers will be able to access the Express Lanes from several general-purpose lanes, including near Route 28.

The I-66 Express Lanes construction is a result of a public-private partnership between VDOT and I-66 Express Mobility Partners, which will maintain and operate the HOT lanes under the 50-year agreement.

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