interstate 66 toll lanes pic

Signs on the Beltway alert drivers that Interstate 66 from Merrifield to Arlington is toll-only during morning rush hour Feb. 5, 2018. (Photo by Paul Lara, InsideNoVa)

Fewer drivers on the Interstate 66 toll road inside the Beltway during the COVID-19 pandemic means less money for regional transportation projects.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, which receives and disseminates funding for the projects, anticipates a significant drop in revenue, and will have to put off selection of projects in the latest round of its  “Commuter Choice” initiative.

The commission previously anticipated having $25 million in toll revenues to fund a two-year cycle of projects, owing to toll revenue from drivers using I-66 without the requisite number of occupants to qualify for free use of the road during rush hour.  A total of 14 applications totaling nearly $34 million had been submitted by local agencies in the latest cycle of funding.

How much lower than $25 million will revenues be? At the present time, it is “challenging to predict,” Northern Virginia Transportation Commission leaders said in an April 30 memo to commission members, recommending that the process of selecting projects for funding be postponed until later in the year, when the financial situation is less hazy.

There is enough money available to fund those projects already in the pipeline, staff told commissioners.

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