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Smart system could take over Interstate 66

Tuesday - 10/18/2011, 1:15pm  ET

Adam Tuss, wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- Plans are moving forward to make Interstate 66 smarter.

Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton said Tuesday that a request for proposal process will start in the next few weeks to bring an "active traffic management" system to the highway, which is one of the most notorious travel corridors in the region.

So how will it work?

Connaughton explained that gantries will monitor the lanes.

"We are going to open and close lanes, including the shoulders," he said. "We are going to adjust the speed limits. We are going to tell people essentially what you can do in different lanes, based on the traffic conditions."

The proposed traffic system would run on I-66 from the D.C. line through Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William counties, ending at Route 15 in Haymarket.

The estimated cost of the project is $32 million, according to VDOT. That's $5.4 million for preliminary engineering and $26.9 million for construction. No land would have to be acquired for the project.

Construction could start as early as next year.

If the program is successful on I-66, Connaughton said it could be extended to the I-95 corridor and the Capital Beltway.

"I'm trying to get the most out of the capacity that I have because we don't have the money and I don't have the physical ability to expand the system anymore," he said. "Anyone driving up and down I-395, I-95 and I-66 -- you recognize, we can't go out any further."

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)