Public meeting held on proposed changes to I-66

More toll lanes are headed for northern Virginia. I-66 is set to get what are known as HOT lanes to help ease congestion. But progress for some means some big challenges for others.

Paying to drive in an interstate that you have taken for free is difficult for people to swallow. But transportation leaders have warned for years that toll lanes were the wave of the future. The future is here and along with it many questions.

It was a packed house at the headquarters of the Virginia Department of Transportation Thursday night as people came armed with questions and concerns.

Fionnuala Quinn likes to bike around the area and her ride takes her near I-66. She is concerned about added traffic and safety. But she is still left with some questions.

"They are at the conceptual stage," she said. "I'm really bringing it up because I want to make sure when they do go into more detail on the design, they are thinking about those issues too."

Mark McConn's property runs right along the interstate.

"The one alternative on my property takes it 50 feet closer to my house," he said. "My house is 665 feet away from there now … It's noisy now."

He said sound barriers are not allowed on the property now and wonders if that will change.

Right now, the plan includes three regular lanes and 2 Express Lanes in each direction. There will also be bus service in the Express Lanes along with bigger commuter lots.

And the planned opening?

"Open to traffic in 2021," said VDOT project director Susan Shaw. "It is an ambitious schedule, but one we feel like we can meet."

Construction is expected to being in 2017. The changes will affect a 25-mile stretch of I-66 running from I-495 to Haymarket.

It is expected to be similar to the HOT lanes seen around the area and be set up as public-private partnership.

VDOT is still looking for construction and operating partners.