Western Prince William County commuters making their way in the morning to Washington, DC and Arlington have an alternative route to work thanks to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). The new I-66 commuter lot is now open. The project, which sits just south of the I-66 eastbound on-ramp along the Route 234 Bypass, was announced in February 2012, construction began in April 2012 and it opened today, July 8, 2013. The lot is accessible from Cushing Road, which intersects at Balls Ford Road. Locals know this as the road that leads to the 7-11 gas station right before the I-66 entrance. Drivers familiar with this part of Manassas will recall when the trees were cleared along the highway for the project and a few months later, when a new traffic light was installed at the intersection. Eastern Prince William County has multiple commuter lots designed to relieve traffic along the I-95 corridor, but in the western end, this is the first full-fledged lot built just for commuters. From the parking area, carpool drivers can turn right to find their way to I-66 East or West at any time of day; or, they can make a left to enter I-66 East during the morning HOV hours (Monday-Friday, 5:30am-9:30am). The I-66 commuter lot eastbound on-ramp is closed at all other times.
A digital display along the Route 234 Bypass alerts drivers to the lots opening today. The pictures posted to this article, taken during a visit to the commuter lot at 2pm this afternoon, shows that there weren’t many takers this morning. Considering the light DC area summer traffic pattern, I am sure this summer opening was by design. It is going to take I-66 drivers and the oncoming bus and car drivers from the new I-66 commuter lot some time to get used to the new traffic flow. [highlighter color=”yellow”]Bus and carpool traffic entering I-66 will enter onto a dedicated HOV land that will merge into the regular traffic as they make their way left to drive in I-66’s traditional HOV lane[/highlighter]
433 parking spots are spread out among two separate lots, each along the left side of Cushing as you approach the commuter area. The first lot has room for parking, accommodates bicyclists and is where the bus loop and shelters (2) are located. The second lot, which is closest to the I-66 on-ramp, only has parking spaces. Single-passenger drivers in our area are known to pick up riders for the commute to work to satisfy HOV requirements. This practice, known as slugging, will be made easy from these lots. The roads in the lots are wide enough for slug lines and drivers. Slugs, as the riders are known, will be able to take cover on inclement weather days under the shelters provided by VDOT. The space was planned with facilities for our community’s most health-conscious commuters – bicyclists. Included in the design are 10 heavy-duty bicycle racks and 10 very large bicycle storage units. Read about VDOT’s bicycle locker program here. Bus service will be provided by Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC). This will be the last stop on the Linton Hall Metro Direct Route before entering I-66. Read about PRTC’s enhanced service here. If you are looking to conduct any business in these lots, beware signage clearly warns against commercial parking and the sale of any goods. Congratulations to VDOT employees and contractors for completing this much needed project on time! Read more about the project at the VDOT site.