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State seeks private partner to tackle I-66 congestion

Virginia transportation officials are looking to the private sector for ideas on how to improve the flow of traffic on one of the region’s most congested corridors, Interstate 66.

The Virginia Office of Transportation Public Private Partnerships has issued a request for information (RFI) for private sector proposals for a 25-mile section of I-66 outside the Capital Beltway, from U.S. 15 in Prince William County to Interstate 495 in Fairfax County.

The goal is to add additional capacity to the road, provide transit options and possibly finance the project through tolled express lanes, similar to the I-495 Express Lanes, according to Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), who announced the RFI on Thursday morning.

“The goal is to make I-66 an efficient and dynamic transportation facility so that motorists and commuters save time and money, while cutting down on the stress and cost of waiting in traffic,” McDonnell said.

Currently, I-66 corridor improvements are in the environmental review process. Following public hearings last spring, the Commonwealth Transportation Board advanced the following concepts for further consideration:

• Widen I-66 by building additional general purpose lanes that would not be tolled.

• Convert the existing HOV lane into either a one- or two-lane (in each direction) facility that would be free to carpoolers, buses and emergency vehicles. The HOV lanes would operate similar to the I-495 Express Lanes.

• Locate bus rapid transit in the median of I-66.

State officials would also accept proposals for a Metrorail extension or light rail transit, according to McDonnell’s office.

RFI responses are due by Nov. 25 and project details are posted on www.I66ppta.org.

Cross County Trail renamed to honor Gerry Connolly

The Fairfax County Park Authority Board voted earlier this month to rename the Cross County Trail in honor of former Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chairman and current U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Dist. 11). It is now officially the Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail.

“I am truly humbled by this unexpected honor,” Connolly said in a released statement. “The Cross County Trail is one of my proudest accomplishments in public office.” However, he added, many other officials and community members share the honor.

“This project is a true example of what can happen when the local community, volunteers and our elected officials work together,” he said.

The 40-mile trail from Great Falls to Occoquan was completed in 2005. The project connected existing pieces of the county’s trail network by adding missing sections.

Transurban relocates U.S. headquarters

Transurban, the private operator of the 495 Express Lanes, is relocating its U.S. headquarters from New York to Fairfax County. Transurban is also partnering with the state to construct express lanes on Interstate 95.

The move did not involve a significant staff move. The company already has about 50 employees in its Fairfax office, with an additional 60 contractors at the Express Lanes Operations Center.

The toll road operator is based in Australia, and all of its U.S. toll roads are located in Virginia.