How slow can you go?
That and other questions will be answered beginning Tuesday on Interstate 66, when motorists will begin to see travel times displayed on additional overhead message boards spanning the 35 miles from Washington to Haymarket.
The Virginia Department of Transportation has posted the number of miles and minutes since August 2011 to key destinations at three locations between the Beltway and Gainsville.
Several more locations will be added by summer — two on I-66 and four locations on major roads approaching I-66.
Congestion Conundrum: Rail or Roads?
We already know traffic in the Washington metro area is the worst in the country, according to the Texas Transportation Institute. How to alleviate congestion in Northern Virginia, especially on highways, has been a source of debate for years.
Democratic Virginia Reps. Gerry Connolly and Rep. Jim Moran introduced a bill earlier this year in the U.S. House of Representatives that would authorize studying Metrorail's possible expansion into Centreville and other areas of Northern Virginia.
Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity earlier this year said he would like to see Express Lanes built along I-66 similar to those found on the Beltway now. "There’s no other way to say it, I-66 congestions is a nightmare and we need a solution fast," he said.
For now, the message boards may encourage commuters who see an unusually long drive times to their location on I-66 to take an alternate route.
The message signs will offer the info at seven new locations in April included here:
Eastbound I-66 travel times will be posted on overhead signs:
- East of Route 234, with the travel time to the Vienna Metro
- At the Fairfax County Parkway, with the travel time to I-495
- Near Route 50, with the travel time to Washington, DC
Westbound I-66 travel times will be posted on overhead signs:
- At Sycamore Street, with the travel time to I-495
- Before the Beltway, with the travel time to Route 50
- West of Route 123, with the travel time to Route 234 Business
- At Monument Drive, with the travel time to Route 29 in Gainesville
- Just west of the Fairfax County Parkway, with the travel time to Route 29 in Gainesville
- Just west of the Rest Area with the travel time to Route 15 in Haymarket.
Travel times will be displayed from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekends.
VDOT is using traffic data from Inrix and other sources to determine the travel times. Traffic controllers at the Public Safety Transportation Operations Center in Fairfax County work to ensure the travel times are successfully relayed to the electronic message signs and are accurately refreshed every five minutes.