Photo by M.V. Jantzen on Flickr.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is currently studying transportation in the I-66 corridor inside the Beltway. A public hearing in Arlington on Wednesday will be a critical chance to weigh in on the smartest investments.

This study could lead to just about any mobility improvement: light rail on Route 50, tolls, bus lanes, changes to the HOV structure, or more Capital Bikeshare stations.

But especially given Governor McDonnell’s heavy emphasis on in new and wider roads, smart growth advocates should be keeping a particularly close eye on the results, as it could set the stage for a new push to widen I-66 through Arlington.

The whole reason VDOT is doing this study comes from a battle in early 2009. VDOT wanted to widen I-66 in some places, but advocates argued they needed to analyze other options instead of just assuming widening was the answer. Arlington and Fairfax members of the TPB briefly blocked the project, and agreed to let it proceed on the condition VDOT do this study.

Will they truly be open to more creative multimodal options, or simply got through the motions only to reach a predetermined conclusion that more road capacity is the only answer?

Map from VDOT defining the I-66 corridor inside the Beltway.

The study’s mission is to “identify a range of multimodal and corridor management solutions (operational, transit, bike, pedestrian, and highway) that can be implemented to reduce highway and transit congestion and improve overall mobility within the I-66 corridor, between I-495 and the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge.”

One thing that jumps out on the map is that while the corridor has three major east-west roadways, it has just one dedicated bike trail. VDOT doesn’t step outside its of its roads-first mentality too often, so Wednesday’s meeting will be a good opportunity to send them a message.

I-66 Multimodal Study Open House & Presentation

Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011

6-8 pm (presentation begins at 6:30 pm)

Arlington County Board Room

2100 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington

If you can’t make the meeting, you can still read about the study and send comments to

Tagged: i-66, roads, vdot, virginia

Miles Grant grew up in Boston riding the Green Line, and has lived in Northern Virginia riding the Orange Line since 2002. Also blogging at The Green Miles, he believes enhancing smart growth makes the DC area not just more environmentally sustainable, but a healthier and more vibrant place to live, work and play.