A key piece of the plan to improve I-66 outside the Beltway has fallen into place.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has okayed a $1.2 billion loan for the project. The loan covers a third of the project’s total cost and is made under the government’s Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. The TIFA is designed to help public-private transportation partnerships.
Virginia’s private partner on the “I-66 Outside the Beltway Project” is a group called Express Mobility Partners. It’s consortium of Cintra, Meridiam, Ferrovial Agroman US and Allan Myers, and it’s responsible for designing, building, financing, operating, and maintaining the road work.
Express lanes, mass transit and other improvements
The project will modify nearly 23 miles of I-66. It will add two express lanes, in each direction, alongside three regular lanes from I-495 to Route 29 in Gainesville. There will be dedicated express lane access points and space in the median reserved for future transit. The project also includes 4,000 park-n-ride spaces, new and expanded bus service throughout the corridor, safety and operational improvements at key interchanges, auxiliary lanes between interchanges, and bicycle and pedestrian upgrades.
“The I-66 Outside the Beltway project is a prime example of how working collaboratively and creatively with all parties can achieve major transportation improvements that benefit and protect Virginia taxpayers,” Governor Terry McAuliffe said in a news release. “Securing a TIFIA loan was critical to the Commonwealth and its private partner’s ability to move forward and deliver this important public-private partnership transportation project.”
The project requires no public investment. Express Mobility Partners will provide an upfront payment of about $500 million that will be used to fund additional transportation improvements in the corridor. The agreement also requires EMP to pay about $800 million for transit service in the corridor and $350 million for other projects to improve the I-66 corridor over the next 50 years.
Have your say on these plans
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and EMP team have been working to develop design plans for the express lanes project. The public will have an opportunity to review and provide comments on the latest project design plans at public hearings scheduled on November 13, 14 and 16.
Initial construction is scheduled to begin later this year and heavy construction throughout the entire corridor is expected to be in full swing by the spring of 2018. The express lanes are scheduled to open in 2022.