by Allen Muchnick, President, May 16, 2007
The I-66 project involves neither "spots" nor "improvements", and changes of this nature were not even mentioned in the March 2005 final report of VDOT’s Idea-66 Feasibility Study. Rather, this project was concocted in mid-2005 as a scheme to construct major segments of a third westbound I-66 travel lane, using Frank Wolf’s federal earmarks, without considering any alternatives or any of the many adverse environmental or traffic impacts of this particular project.
Do not allow VDOT to continue misrepresenting this project as involving only operational improvements, and please require VDOT to conduct at least a proper Environmental Assessment for its proposed action. The true purpose of this unnecessary, counterproductive, and unwarranted project is to expand I-66 capacity for untolled, single-occupant vehicles. It would worsen traffic congestion on connected westbound highways, along eastbound I-66, and at nearby Arlington and Fairfax County intersections, but VDOT is purposefully evading meaningful traffic analyses. Moreover, this project would create two new westbound bottlenecks at the low-volume Glebe Road and Sycamore St exits, where three westbound lanes would drop down to two. Please at least require VDOT to report back to the TPB in early 2008 with fair and objective analyses of the impacts of this project on regional traffic and on the environmental mitigations, required under the Coleman Decision, to provide wetlands, wildlife habitat, and public open space within VDOT’s right-of-way for I-66.