Shortly after my last post on the subject, VDOT released an updated design for the I-66 trail. The new design reduces the part that is inside the sound barrier from ~5 miles to 3 miles and it makes some other changes as well.
The Transform I-66 project, whatever it's downside is, will do a lot to improve cycling and walking in the corridor. The project will add 11 miles of trail with another 7 provided by others. It will improve 11 bridges with additional bicycle and pedestrian facilities and add 8 permanent count stations along the trail.
The main purpose of the new design was to reduce the amount of trail that is inside the sound barrier (ISB). In some cases the bike lane was moved outside the sound barrier (OSB), and in others the sound barrier was removed. In the Fair Lakes area, the long stretch of ISB trail was broken up and reduced and the section near Route 28 redesigned. (Solid Purple is ISB, Green is OSB and Purple with white is no sound barrier).
And the ISB sections were reduced west of Oakton as well
In addition, the section near Fairfax County Parkway was realigned. The trail no longer runs along I-66 west of West Ox but instead uses Fair Lakes Parkway and Fair Lakes Circle to connect to the same crossing of Fairfax County Parkway. It may be a shorter route, but how they design this portion (using the interactive map, it looks like a sidepath) will likely determine whether it is better or not.
This doesn't correct ALL the things that should be improved, but it is progress. Still, it means that trail users will have long sections where they're sandwiched between the highway and the barrier, sections that will be loud and dirty.
Which might be OK, if there were a good reason for this. But the only reason given is that some people didn't like the trails on the residential side.
VDOT developed the concept plan for the 66 Trail consistent with local jurisdiction trail plans. During earlier public outreach for the project, VDOT received many comments opposed to placing the trail on the residential side of noise barriers in locations where the trail passes near homes. Those comments led to a contract requirement to locate the trail on the highway side of noise barriers in areas adjacent to homes.