Post #284: CORRECTED: They’re going to do what at Nutley and 66?

Posted on May 28, 2019

In my original posting, I downloaded the draft plans on the Commonwealth of Virginia website explaining the proposed changes to I-66.  A colleague pointed out that these plans are obsolete.  Virginia Department of Transportation substantially altered the plan for the I-66/Nutley interchange, they just they just didn’t replace them on their website.  The corrected plans can be seen in this newspaper article, and a copy in full detail is on the Town of Vienna website (.pdf).  I have yet to determine where they can be found on the VDOT site.

I am going to walk through the new plans in the same orientation as I did in my  original posting.  To get oriented:  I-66 runs top to bottom, DC would be at the bottom.  Nutley runs left to right — Pan Am Shopping center is to the left, Vienna is to the right.


Under the new plan, the exits from Nutley to I-66 will be more-or-less as they are now.  But the exits from I-66 to Nutley will be quite different.  There will be a single exit ramp from each side of I-66 to serve both Nutley northbound and southbound.  The ramps will split — one side will feed directly onto Nutley in one direction, and the the other will terminate in a partial roundabout that will allow you to (in effect) to make the left turn onto Nutley in the other direction.  In addition, the westbound I-66 Lexus lanes will have an exit onto Nutley.  Again, using the partial roundabout, you can access Nutley north-bound or south-bound.

The proposed plan makes a hash of the existing pedestrian paths through the interchange.  Right now, there are sidewalks on either side of the road, you can walk from Vienna to Pan Am on either side, and on either side, you have to cross a total of four single-lane entrance and exit ramps.

Under the new plan, if you opt for the sidewalk (dark green) you must start on the east side of Nutley in Vienna, end up on the west side of Nutley at Pan Am, and cross the full width of Nutley (without a light!) at the left-hand roundabout in the picture above.  This is in addition to crossing four entrance/exit ramps.

Alternatively, there is a multi-use path (orange) that appears designed for bicycles.  If you take that option, you avoid the at-grade crossings of the road entirely, but take a much longer path and end up on the east side of Nutley at Pan Am.  By my measurement, the distance from Marshall Road to Lee Highway is currently about 4000 feet by sidewalk.  It will be over 6000 feet with the new multi-use path.  Trivial for a bicyclist, but burdensome for a pedestrian.  That said, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone walking that route.  If there are any pedestrians crossing that bridge, they are few and far between now.

They will also take out the collector-distributor lanes at this interchange. Presumably they needed the room; plausibly I-66 will now fill the entire available area under that bridge, so the “through” part of the collector-distributor lane was no longer feasible.  At any rate, instead of passing under Nutley to access one of the directions on Nutley from I-66, the exit ramp splits and leads directly to each direction.  That’s now feasible because the partial roundabouts allow you to, in effect, make a left turn across Nutley, if need be.