I-66 Outside the Beltway
What are the Impacts?
What are the Losses?

ALL EYES ON I-66! - UPHOLD ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS!


Another big project brings big changes to the Accotink Creek watershed, none of them likely to be good. The I-66 Outside the Beltway project crosses 5.1 miles of the Accotink Creek watershed, passing over the tributaries of Long Branch (north), Bear Branch, Hatmark Branch, Hunters Branch, and the headwaters of the northwestern watershed.


Construction activity began in late 2017 and accelerated in summer 2018. Although we were unable to hold the asphalt at bay or even to have current stormwater controls applied to this project, let's all keep our eyes on it and hold VDOT and contractors to standards the citizens and environment of Virginia are entitled to expect.

Read about our coalition efforts to modify and redirect the project HERE

Scroll down to observations from the field along I-66.


From Jermantown Road to Gallows Road, the project is in the Accotink Creek Watershed

SEE ENVIRONMENTAL VIOLATIONS ON I-66?
Contact Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, 703-583-3800 or 24-hour hotline: 800-468-8892 or ONLINE REPORT FORM. Call DEQ when you observe sediment flowing into storm drains/streams, failing sediment control devices, or inadequate sediment control measures.
More information from DEQ HERE

You may also advise VDOT of violations at Transform66@VDOT.Virginia.gov , or to your Fairfax County supervisor , or your state legislator


Years after completion of the 495 Express Lanes, we are strugglinng to correct erosion control and replanting shortcomings that did not meet minimum standards. We fully expect to face the same situation with the I-66 Express Lanes.

Read the ongoing sad story of the 495 Express Lanes years after construction - habitat loss, erosion & sedimentation, indifference, and replanting failures.

Find project information from VDOT at http://outside.transform66.org

The consortium I-66 Express Mobility Partners, owned by Cintra (Spain) and Meridiam Infrastructure (France), has the 50-year concession to build and and operate the project. The construction contractor will be FAM Construction, owned by Ferrovial Agroman (Spain - parent company of Cintra) and Allan Myers (Pennsylvania).


OBSERVATIONS FROM THE FIELD:


July 14, 2019 - Field Survey: Conducted field survey of Chain Bridge Road interchange.

The Mosby Woods tributary between NB 123 and the ramp from NB 123 to eastbound 66 is still under assault. Heavy equipment is still operation on its banks and in the streambed itself. Great piles of material are encroaching upon the banks. It may be the intended modification is far greater that the online plans would indicate.

Little else has changed since our last inspection, just seven days ago, and that is not a good thing. Many drainage and stormwater features have been left in a haphazard state as other work progresses in an apparent rush. Damselflies were frequenting one such spot, where an unintended runoff pond has accumulated, with a single dragonfly perched on a protruding piece of twisted rebar. Some silt fence failures and gullying were evident.

What the rush is about is not apparent, as it seems that soil is just being pushed from one spot to another.

Link to photos:


July 7, 2019 - Field Survey: Conducted field survey of Chain Bridge Road interchange.

Shooting the wounded! As a cat toys with a mouse, FAM Construction left us hoping for a half a year that the scant surviving woods in the Chain Bridge Road cloverleaf might be spared. Instead, they now seem to be intent on delivering the coup-de-grāce. The woods left unscathed by the major clearing of last fall have now been scraped to bare earth. This includes the area outside the EB 66 to SB 123 ramp, the sad little sliver that had been clinging to NB Chain Bridge Road just north of 66, and the cruelest "cut" of all, the wooded area within the SB Chain Bridge Road to EB 66 ramp, where the Mosby Woods tributary runs through.

Aquatic atrocity! Even worse in its way than the cutting of trees is the wretched state of the Mosby Woods tributary between NB 123 and the ramp from NB 123 to eastbound 66. The pitiful strip of green left on the banks is gone and earthmoving equipment is churning the streambed itself into a muddy morass. These are waters of the United States, yet protection seems to amount to little. The fish populations once found here would appear to be doomed. And why? VDOT's online plans indicate little change to the existing roadway configuration here.

In general, the cloverleaf worksite currently gives the appearance of being in a dash to catch up to schedule or to acheive some goal by a certain date. The state of work has a rushed appearance, with huge areas all being disturbed at the same time and those disturbed areas left unstabilized. Many drainage and stormwater features seem not to have been addressed in the apparent rush. We are unable to say if any of the unstabilized areas have been left that way for over 7 days.

Link to photos:


July 5, 2019 - Field Survey: Conducted field survey of Gallows Road overpass.

The formerly wooded areas seen during our last inspection on July 23, 2018, are now little more than scrubby regrowth waiting to feel the blade yet again. There is considerable new clearing of trees adjacent to the Dunn Loring Metro parking garage. Although the east side of Gallows Road lies in the Holmes Run watershed, at the northeast corner of the overpass five houses have now been sacrificed and their former location left bare. This is to accommodate widening of the overpass.

Link to photos:


June 9, 2019 - Field Survey: Conducted field survey at Bushman Drive and Platten Drive.

Mighty machines were at work today, devouring the wooded areas along Bushman Drive, right down to the banks of the two tributary streams here. This seems to be more clearing than is needed, but 'Clear first and ask questions later' always seems to be the policy.

The VDOT plans do indicate two stormwater control ponds here adjacent to the Ranger Road tributary - of course - install environmental features, but always at the cost of natural habitat and forest. There is nothing on the plans to indicate a motive for clearing near the Dale Lestina tributary at the other end of Bushman Drive.

The little woods at Platten Drive have also fallen to the bulldozers, with near zero buffer left on the banks of the stream. Two stormwater ponds appear on the VDOT plan west of Platten Drive, but no similar motive is apparent for the clearing east of Platten Drive.

Vines are abundant along the sound walls adjacent to Bushman Drive and Platten Drive. Let's hope some survive this ordeal.

Link to photos:


June 9, 2019 - Field Survey: Conducted field survey of Nutley Street interchange.

Our hopes for the sad little woods of the Nutley Street cloverleaf have been dashed. The cloverleaf has now been cleared edge-to-edge, with not a single tree left. A forlorn "No Mowing" sign now stands guard over a stark wasteland. Much of the cleared area has been left too long without reseeding, making the bare soil more suseptible to erosion. There is still some hope that the annually mown areas, some of which have pretty good stands of wildflowers, may yet survive.

Link to photos:


March 27, 2019 - Field Survey: Conducted field survey of Chain Bridge Road interchange.

There were no notable observations today. Erosion and sediment controls seemed to be functioning adequately. There are a few small areas that have been neglected for some time, apparently too small to attract the attention of the construction consortium or of DEQ inspectors. It is somewhat heartening that there has been no additional clearing within the cloverleaf for months - dare we hope the remaining woods will be spared? Large scale clearing is certainly still ongoing along other portions of the I-66 project in the Accotink Creek watershed and beyond.

Link to photos:


January 27, 2019 - Field Survey: Conducted field survey of Chain Bridge Road interchange.

The most serious erosion and sediment control failures observed December 16, 2018, have all been corrected, although some smaller issues persist. One troubling finding was a conveyance channel inadvertently filled in. No additional clearing has occured within the cloverleaf.

A lone hawk circled forlornly overhead today, perhaps remembering its hunting grounds of last winter, now become a desolate wasteland.

Link to photos:


January 27, 2019 - Field Survey: Conducted field survey of Jermantown Road crossing.

Not a single tree or shrub has been spared along this section. At least the erosion and sediment controls seems to be holding up.

Link to photos:


January 6, 2019 - Spotted elsewhere along the I-66 Project.

Tree save area? One single solitary tree spared the bulldozer - not for conservation or preservation - but only because it stood next to the inviolable steel tree of a cell tower.

If the cell tower could be spared, why not at least some of the woods around it? Is it just unfortunate force of habit that mandates clearing everything as a matter of course? Could it not just as easily be the standard practice to preserve everything not in the direct path of construction?



December 16, 2018 - Field Survey: Conducted field survey of Chain Bridge Road interchange.

In the previous 24 hours, 2.5 inches of rain fell, providing a stress test for sediment and erosion controls. Unfortunately, a number of failures were observed, including several breached silt fences and areas of bare soil left exposed to erosion.

Link to photos:


December 7, 2018 - Meeting with VDOT & FAM

Representatives of Friends of Accotink Creek met with representatives of VDOT and the construction company, FAM. Senator Dave Marsden was also there and Delegate Kaye Kory attended by conference call. We explained the Friends of Accotink Creek concerns with sediment controls and habitat loss, especially the clearance of nearly all vegetative cover down to the banks of the tributary in the 123 cloverleaf. We also reminded VDOT the wetland at Willow Crescent Drive needs to be preserved.

Conclusions reached at the meeting were:

  • We will meet in April to review and inspect the project.
  • The project partners will examine possibilities for:
    • Protection of the remaining wooded area,
    • Conserving fish populations,
    • Accelerated revegetation along streams,
    • Daylighting Hunter Branch in the Nutley Street interchange


December 6, 2018 - Field Survey: Conducted field survey of Nutley Street interchange.

Little has changed at this interchange since our last inspection July 24, 2018. Recent mowing (of areas that have always been mowed) took place with large equipment when the ground was wet, leaving large swathes looking raw, rutted, and torn up. There is a previously unnoticed road of sorts into a wooded part of the SE quadrant that has also been left rutted and torn up by recent tractor movement over wet ground.

We understand part of the reason for lack of activity here is due to reevaluation of the design of the future interchange.

Link to photos:


November 18, 2018 - Field Survey: Conducted field survey of streams in Chain Bridge Road interchange.

Most of banks of the two branches of the Mosby Woods tributary that flow through the cloverleaf now have been cleared nearly to the banks or all the way to the banks. This level of clearing seems excessive and gratuitous and has been done in spite of the tidy little signs put in place to mark protected wetlands. Closer examination is disappointing, with many areas where erosion and sediment controls along the banks seem inadequate or even haphazard. Fish populations are still present in these tributaries, but the abundance seen before construction was not observed during this inspection. The loss of the shade and food source provided by streamside trees will surely harm fish populations. Our requests to speak with VDOT or FAM Construction staff regarding stream protection here have still not been fulfilled.

Link to photos:


November 9, 2018 - Field Survey: Conducted field survey of Chain Bridge Road interchange.

Clearing of wooded areas within the cloverleaf has advanced since our September 7, 2018, survey. Parts of the two branches of the Mosby Woods tributary that flow through the cloverleaf now have been cleared nearly to the banks. This does not portend well for the future of the fish populations in these tributaries, which were surprisingly abundant, even within the cloverleaf, before construction. Our requests to speak with VDOT or FAM Construction staff regarding stream protection here have still not been fulfilled.

Erosion and sediment controls in general continue to be adequate and holding up. Some of the areas most recently cleared, however, were looking quite raw and neglected. We may hope this will be quickly remedied.

Link to photos:


September 7, 2018 - Field Survey: Conducted field survey of Chain Bridge Road interchange.

Most of the interior of the Chain Bridge Road cloverleaf was formerly thickly wooded, but this has changed dramatically since our June 18, 2018, survey. Much of the cloverleaf is now denuded, although wooded areas do remain. We may hope that the wooded areas have been set aside as protection for the two branches of the Mosby Woods tributary that flow through the cloverleaf. Our requests to speak with VDOT or FAM Construction staff regarding stream protection here have gone unanswered for weeks.

Erosion and sediment controls seem so far to be adequate and holding up in spite of frequent rainstorms. The rain has had the benefit of promoting germination of stabilizing grasses. We were encouraged to see at least one sign warning against wetland disturbance - and hope there are many more we have not yet observed.

Link to photos:


September 6, 2018 - Field Survey: Conducted field surveys of two points that afford public access for observations of I-66.

There is not much activity to observe at these points. Observation is possible only outside the soundwall. It may be that these spots will be unaffected by construction.

The headwaters of the Mosby Woods tributary pass under Rosehaven Street and enter the Chain Bridge Road cloverleaf here.

The number of mature vines inhabiting the soundwalls here is notable, including natives such as wild grape, Trumpet Vine, Virginia Creeper, and Poison Ivy,as well as alien invasives such as Porcelainberry and English Ivy.

Links to photos of access points observed:


August 30, 2018 - Field Survey: Conducted field surveys of two points that afford public access for observations of I-66.

Serious construction has not reached these points yet, other than some initial clearing for later equipment access. No erosion and sediment control issues were evident. Three tributary streams pass beneath I-66 in these areas, so they will be areas especially vulnerable to damage during construction.

The number of mature vines inhabiting the soundwalls here is notable, including natives such as wild grape, Trumpet Vine, Virginia Creeper, and Poison Ivy,as well as alien invasives such as Porcelainberry and English Ivy.

Links to photos of access points observed:


August 16, 2018 - Field Survey: Conducted field surveys of three points that afford public access for observations of I-66.

Little has changed at these points since the initial clearing of acess paths. Nothing unexpected or noteworthy was observed as far as erosion and sediment controls.

Links to photos of access points observed:


July 23, 24, & 27, 2018 - Field Survey: Conducted field surveys of several points that afford public access for observations of I-66.

Tree clearing is well underway at the Jermantown Road overpass and western end of I-66 in the Accotink Creek watershed. Farther east, less clearing is visible. Although there were heavy rains the previous few days, no egregious erosion and sediment control failures were evident, although there were some problems at the Saintsbury Drive location.

One discovery was a small wetland adjacent to Willow Cresent Drive. Although it is untouched so far, it has no protective signage. We may hope it has been recognized and will be avoided.

Links to photos of access points observed:


June 18, 2018 - Field Survay: Conducted field survey of Chain Bridge Road interchange.

Most of the interior of the Chain Bridge Road cloverleaf is thickly wooded, although heavily infested by invasive alien species. One area in the northeast of the cloverleaf has long been used as an equipment staging area. Tree clearing has begun, particularly in the northeast quadrant.

Link to photos:


June & July, 2018:

Surveyed the tributaries that cross I-66 in anticipation of the I-66
widening. The tree clearing has begun in earnest. A copy of
Encyclopedia Paranoiaca found along a tributary seems an ill
portent for the future of these unfortunate tributaries.

The survey results are posted online (Items 1, 3, 4, 5, & 24 HERE).





Date: April 3, 2015, Survey Photos

Members of Friends of Accotink Creek made a quick survey of wooded habitat along the I-66 right-of-way likely to be reduced or lost in any widening. As might be expected, the quality of habitat was largely disappointing, with large numbers of invasive alien plants occupying only a narrow wooded buffer. Larger patches of better quality habitat are in the cloverleafs at Nutley street and Chain Bridge Road, in Southside Park in Vienna, and in the common property of the Four Winds community in Oakton. Degraded as it may be, even such small habitat areas have value that should be preserved.

Also found during the survey was evidence of erosion and sediment control failures that we may expect on a large scale from any project that goes forward along I-66. Friends of Accotink Creek documented many such failures during construction of the 495 Express Lanes. This time what we found was small, but flagrant - bare slopes left to erode, silt fences collapsed, and quantities of sediment in waterways. Our Reports to VDOT and DEQ seem to have gone the way such reports are usually handled. Typically in these cases, if any action is taken, the responsible party is merely told to begin doing what they should have done all along - no fine is levied and no remediation of damage is required.