FAIRFAX, Va. — Interstate 66 is among the most severely clogged stretches of road in the region. Six-and-a-half miles of I-66 from Route 50 in Fairfax to the Beltway can be clogged at any time in either direction and for no rhyme or reason. But Virginia is trying to change that.
This past weekend VDOT continued testing on a new system that will allow traffic to use the shoulder lanes that are normally only used during rush hour. Eventually those big red X’s will no longer be taunting traffic with an empty lane while nobody moves when the road is congested outside of the normal rush hours.
“I think this is a game-changer for I-66 in the short term,” says Supervisor Pat Herrity, who has been working to make this happen since taking office in 2008. “We need a long term solution but this will be a game-changer in the short term.”
Cameras posted along the road will be monitored in VDOT’s Traffic Operations Center and when things start to grind to a halt the shoulders will be opened up to traffic. Once things get moving again, the shoulders will be closed to traffic and go back to serving as a lane for broken down vehicles.
VDOT spent the weekend testing the system out. Engineers will make an assessment of those tests today, and if all goes well, Virginia hopes to launch the new system on Wednesday. A federal grant worth $38 million helped to make this happen.