Va. board approves tolls on I-66

FOX 5 Chief Investigative Reporter Emily Miller has more on the tolls that are expected to help improve congestion on Interstate 66 in northern Virginia.

Everyone who has to take Interstate 66 in northern Virginia knows it is one of the most congested roads in the area. Virginia officials say it is going to get better, but it's going to cost you.

On Wednesday morning, the Commonwealth Transportation Board voted unanimously to add tolls on I-66 during rush hour.

“The big winner would be the people of northern Virginia because it’s all about choice,” said Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne.

Currently, I-66 is HOV-only during rush hour and you need a carpool buddy to use the road -- and it’s still slow.

Transportation officials say the new toll plan means motorists will be able to drive solo and faster -- an estimated 45 miles per hour.

Tolls will be dynamic based on the traffic. But expect to pay about $6 each way.

The HOV carpoolers will not have to pay the tolls and neither will people driving against traffic.

There will not be any new lanes as this plan will allow solo drivers to use the road during rush hour.

Drivers had strong opinions on the change.

“I think it’s a really stupid idea,” said Amy Bookwalter.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Bryson Holman. “Sometimes you don't have someone to ride with.”

“No matter what time you’re on I-66, there’s traffic,” said Lotfi Choukri. “At least for me, it’s better if I can use it.”

“I use it all the time and I don't know if I like having to pay a toll,” said Rick Bookwalter. “We already paid for these roads already, so we why do we have to do it again?”

“I think it’s taxing the wealthy because only the wealthy will be able to afford ten bucks a day or more,” said Amy Bookwalter.

“I’d say that’s the world we live in now,” said Kyle Reeb. “You got to pay for everything.”

When you pay the toll, you won’t have to slow down at toll booths. You will have to pay by your E-ZPass through the overhead electronic tolling – similar to the ones on the 495 Express Lanes.

You will also have more time to use the Express Lanes. They will be open an extra hour and half during the morning and evening commutes.

Next summer, the Virginia Department of Transportation will start building these devices over I-66 and they will be up in 2017.

The money from the tolls will be used to improve the roads and other transit projects in northern Virginia. Then they will move to Plan B, which will take part of the money and look at widening westbound I-66 of the Beltway so that the highway is less congested.

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