The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) currently is conducting an environmental study about plans to extend the 495 Express Lanes by approximately three miles from the Dulles Toll Road interchange to the vicinity of the American Legion Bridge. VDOT will host a public hearing on the project on May 20, 2019, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Cooper Middle School Cafeteria, 977 Balls Hill Road, in McLean. This will be an excellent opportunity to learn more about the project and ask VDOT staff about including bicycle facilities in the project.
In late January, Governor Northam announced that Virginia had signed an agreement with the Australian company Transurban to extend the existing 495 Express Lanes to the American Legion Bridge. As part of the deal, Transurban will spend more than $550 million to complete the 2.5-mile extension. When complete, four general purpose lanes and two new Express Lanes will run in each direction of the Capital Beltway along the stretch between the Dulles Toll Road and the bridge. The project will include connections from the Express Lanes to the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Dulles Toll Road. Construction could begin as early as 2020.
FABB learned at the I-66 Trail update meeting earlier this year that VDOT will be sharing conceptual plans for a parallel trail and improved bike/pedestrian crossings as part of this project. We strongly encourage local bicyclists to attend the meeting and Speak Up for bicycle infrastructure. Local officials and business leaders, as usual, are equating more lanes and tolls with reduced congestion, improved safety, and future economic growth. We need to make sure the planning recognizes that adding multi-use trails as part of the widening project would help get cars off the road rather than inviting more to use it.
If unable to attend, you can still submit comments by June 10, 2019 to Abi Lerner, P.E., Virginia Department of Transportation, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030, or email [email protected]. Please reference “I-495 Express Lanes Northern Extension Study” in the subject line.