Beltway expansion in Virginia will also require eminent domain

It's one of the most controversial transportation questions in our region: what needs to happen to reduce congestion on the Beltway?

Both Maryland and Virginia are planning to expand the interstate with new toll lanes, and on Monday, the Virginia Department of Transportation provided new details about the plans at a packed community meeting in McLean.

VDOT wants to extend existing express lanes on Interstate 495 From the Dulles Toll Road to the American Legion Bridge, about a three-mile stretch where two express lanes would be added in each direction.

The project would involve eminent domain, according to Susan Shaw, VDOT's Megaprojects Director. But she says no buildings would have to be torn down.

"We do not anticipate any relocations of homes, of residences, or of businesses," said Shaw. "But we will need to take some portions of properties, mainly those that immediately abut the 495 right of away today."

In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan's plan to expand the Beltway has come under fire because estimates are 34 homes and 4 businesses may have to come down.

Although it's not that drastic on the Virginia side, people are still worried about effects of the expansion.

"So many of the areas that I love and I personally use for recreation all the time are going to be intruded upon, very violently," said Liam Butler. "I don't think it's a fair decision for the state to make."

Others at the meeting were concerned about how Virginia could move forward if plans in Maryland were not final, specifically how to address the American Legion Bridge.

Maryland and Virginia want to expand 495 leading up to the bridge, but Maryland has not nailed down how to expand the bridge to avoid a traffic bottleneck.

VDOT acknowledged at the meeting that traffic would bottleneck on the bridge if nothing changes.

VDOT will host a public meeting on the project in the Fall. The agency says at the earliest, construction could start in late 2020.

For more information on the project, click here