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Interstate 66



Interstate 66 is a 65-mile long freeway linking Washington with Front Royal and Interstate 81. The highway serves commuter interests from Washington D.C. to the growing Northern Virginia suburbs. Originally Interstate 66 was planned to connect to the never built alignment of Interstate 95 in Washington. Therefore it now ends almost immediately after entering the District of Columbia at the Whitehurst Freeway (U.S. 29). It does not directly connect with Interstate 395, Interstate 695, or Interstate 295.

The routing of Interstate 66 in the District of Columbia is somewhat complicated, if only because of the lack of signage. After crossing the Potomac River via the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, a sign indicates that Interstate 66 east continues north along the Potomac Freeway. The Potomac Freeway is only that short freeway between the Roosevelt Bridge and U.S. 29/Whitehurst Freeway, but it is not signed with any reassurance markers after leaving the bridge. There is no end sign (see pictures below), and green guide signs only refer to the Whitehurst Freeway. However, from U.S. 29/Whitehurst Freeway, west Interstate 66 is signed as heading south on the Potomac Freeway.

Planned Improvements

The often congested stretch of Interstate 66 through Arlington County may or may not see an expansion in the form of an additional westbound lane. This addition is considered for the stretch of highway between Rosslyn and the Dulles Connector. Supported by Representatives Frank R. Wolf (R) and Thomas M. Davis III (R), the proposal was brought to Governor Mark R. Warner (D). The debate entails concerns from Arlington officials involving potential problems that may accompany any traffic relief on that stretch. Thus options covering not only the addition of a westbound lane, but HOV lanes, toll lanes, transit opportunities, or leaving things as is must also be studied. County officials remain adamant in their opposition to any expansion of the existing roadway. Rep. Wolf however maintains that the highway may be expanded for only $18 million within the confines of the existing Interstate 66 "footprint", land already owned by the state. Many residents are not opposed to the potential project, and Wolf contests that the benefits of Interstate 66 expansion will also benefit adjacent streets and neighborhoods with potential relief.1

High Priority Corridor

Proposed Interstate 66 from Kansas to Kentucky is part of High Priority Corridor 3: TransAmerica Corridor. Its designation is written into law for the portion that travels through Kentucky.

Future Aspirations

Currently, plans call for an extension of Interstate 66 to the west. Added as a high priority corridor in 1991 and amended in recent transportation bills, Interstate 66 is the generally accepted designation for Corridor 3. In fact, the Fiscal Year 2002 Transportation Appropriations Bill added Interstate 66 as an Interstate Highway in the state of Kentucky, and signage was placed on the Cumberland Parkway in March 2005 to mark the future corridor. (To see this signage, visit Jeff Carlyle's Kentucky Roads page.) No construction has yet occurred on the new freeway, but the legislation facilitates adding new mileage to Interstate 66. A rough routing has been determined between Interstate 55 in Missouri east to Future Interstate 73/74 and U.S. 52 in West Virginia; the 2004 official map of Kentucky shows the anticipated corridor of the route. The existing Daniel Boone Parkway and Cumberland Parkway are generally planned to become part of the new Interstate highway.

The Interstate 66 East-West Trans-America Freeway was an idea hatched by Wichita business people in the early 1990s as a means to bring more business to southern Kansas. Interstate 66 would connect Fresno, California, with Washington, D.C., via the Four Corners, Wichita, and the width of Kentucky. They saw the business that Interstate 40 and Interstate 70 brought along their respective corridors, and they felt southern Kansas should have that kind of business too. Capitalizing on the fabled number "66," they determined that a new, coast-to-coast route would bring Kansas additional business. So the businessmen brought the idea to their politicians, and the politicians managed to get the idea listed as an ISTEA high priority corridor. Included with that congressional act was funding for a million dollar feasibility study.

Most of the proposed Interstate 66 is ambiguous and not even considered by state departments of transportation. However, the section of proposed Interstate 66 is defined by law between Interstate 57 in Missouri and Interstates 73/74 in West Virginia.

Interstate 66 has its designation written into law from Paducah to Pikeville in Kentucky, and future signage may be erected on eligible sections of the Cumberland (Louis Nunn) and Daniel Boone Parkways. This future designation was authorized in the December 2001 Transportation Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2002. $22.5 million was allocated to Interstate 66 in Fiscal Year 2002. The future routing of Interstate 66 is shown on the 2002 Official Kentucky State Map. Interstate 66 is planned to be routed via the Cumberland Parkway and the Daniel Boone Parkway in southern Kentucky. The Cumberland Parkway is already Interstate compatible. All that will be required is eliminating the cloverleaf interchanges at the toll booths at the U.S. 127 and U.S. 68 exits. At these interchanges, only the cloverleaf ramps exist, not the diamond ramps that you would find at normal cloverleaf interchanges, so all traffic entering or exiting the parkway must pass through the toll booth underneath the overpass. The Daniel Boone Parkway is a Super Two with passing lanes on the hills. It will take extensive reconstruction to become Interstate compatible. Currently, there is no freeway connector between the Cumberland and Daniel Boone Parkways, so one will have to be constructed.

East of Interstate 75, the Interstate 66 corridor is proposed to follow the Daniel Boone Parkway, west of Exit 56. It will run southeast, crossing Kentucky 80, then will turn northeast. It will cross Kentucky 7 and Kentucky 15 near Jeff, run to the north of Carr Fork Lake, cross Kentucky 160 near the intersection of Kentucky 899, run to the south of Pippa Passes, cross Kentucky 7 near Kite, pass near Wheelwright, cross U.S. 23/119 south of U.S. 460/Kentucky 80 at Shelbiana, cross U.S. 460/Kentucky 80 near the Fishtrap Lake dam, then turn nearly due north before resuming a northeasterly direction. It will cross Kentucky 194 and Kentucky 632 near Kimper, Kentucky 199 near McVeigh, then cross into West Virginia between Matewan and Edgarton. It is to end at the proposed King Coal Highway (Interstate 73/74) in West Virginia. The section of proposed Interstate 66 through Kentucky has a proponent web page at Interstate 66: TransAmerica Corridor (by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet) and an opposition web page at Kick 66 (by Kick 66, a "private, not for profit, grass-roots umbrella organization").

It is unclear how Interstate 66 in Kentucky would connect to Interstate 66 in Virginia. While this could be accomplished through U.S. 119 and U.S. 48/Corridor H via Charleston, it is unclear if that is being considered.

See The Trans America Corridor (Interstate 66) Page for more details.


Interstate 66 from Interstate 495/Capital Beltway east to Washington, D.C., was approved for federal funding on January 5, 1977, by Secretary of Transportation William T. Coleman, Jr. The freeway was built with four lanes and had truck restrictions. Additional restrictions were in place during commuting hours: cars with four or more occupants, buses, airport traffic, and emergency vehicles. The final section of Interstate 66 within the beltway opened to traffic on December 22, 1982. The Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, which carries Interstate 66 from Arlington, Virginia, east into the District of Columbia, opened to traffic on June 23, 1964.2

Parallel/Historic U.S. Routes

Interstate 66 largely parallels or replaces U.S. 211 between Interstate 81 and Washington, D.C.

Highway Guides

Western Terminus - Interstate 81 - Middletown, Virginia
Perspective from Interstate 66 west
The Appalachian Mountains setting the tone, Interstate 66 westbound prepares to end at Exits 1A/B with Interstate 81. The northbound control city of Winchester is just 16 miles away while the West Virginia State line is crossed in 23 miles via Interstate 81 north. Photo taken by Richard B. Rogers (12/27/02).
Milepost 0 of Interstate 66, posted about 30 meters before merging onto Interstate 81 south. There are seven miles between the terminus with Interstate 81 and the first interchange near Front Royal. The highway transitions from rural piedmont to sprawling suburbs in dramatic fashion as it progresses eastward to metro Washington D.C. Photo taken by Richard B. Rogers (12/27/02).
Perspective from Interstate 81 south
The exit for Interstate 66 eastbound from Interstate 81 southbound departs from the left. Front Royal is used as the westbound control city of Interstate 66 from Fairfax County westward. Interstate 81 meanwhile, straddles the Appalachians another 158 miles to reach the city of Roanoke. Photo taken by Brian LeBlanc (3/02).
Perspective from Interstate 81 north
Overheads along northbound Interstate 81 approaching Interstate 66 at Front Royal. A 64 mile stretch of freeway separates Interstate 81 and the Capital Beltway/Interstate 495. The town of Front Royal is just nine miles to the southeast. Vidcap taken by Alex Nitzman (05/95).
Northbound Interstate 81 at Junction Eastbound Interstate 66. This marks the western terminus of Interstate 66. There may be future construction to connect Interstate 66 to ARC Corridor H (Future U.S. 48), but no plans currently exist to construct that connection. (See The Trans America Corridor (Interstate 66) for more on Corridor H.) Vidcap taken by Alex Nitzman (05/95).
Eastern Terminus - U.S. 29 - Washington, D.C.
Perspective from Interstate 66 east
Eastbound Interstate 66 approaching U.S. 50 and the E Street connector. Interstate 66 heads northward about a half mile and ends at U.S. 29 and the Whitehurst Freeway. Vidcap taken by Alex Nitzman (10/93).
Another set of Interstate 66/U.S. 50 overheads placed where the freeway enters Washington. Interstate 66 is the only two-digit Interstate to enter Washington, D.C. Had Interstate 95 been constructed through Washington, Interstate 66 would have continued east to meet Interstate 95 north of downtown. However, that plan was aborted along with the freeway planned for Interstate 95. Vidcap taken by Alex Nitzman (10/93).
Eastbound Interstate 66, as it turns north from U.S. 50 towards U.S. 29 in the District of Columbia. This tunnel is located almost directly beneath the Watergate Complex. Interstate 66 ends once it meets U.S. 29 at the end of the tunnel. Vidcap taken by Alex Nitzman (10/93).
The interchange with U.S. 29 (the Whitehurst Freeway) represents the eastern terminus. U.S. 29 and Interstate 66 parallel each other from Gainesville, Virginia, east to Washington, D.C., via Centreville, Fairfax, Falls Church, and Arlington. U.S. 29 uses the Francis Scott Key Bridge to cross the Potomac River, while Interstate 66 uses the Theodore Memorial Bridge. This signage is on Interstate 66. No end signage is present, and there is no mention of U.S. 29. Vidcap taken by Alex Nitzman (10/93).
Southbound U.S. 29 is the same as northbound Whitehurst Freeway. This image shows Southbound U.S. 29/Northbound Whitehurst Freeway approaching the terminus near Georgetown University. Vidcap taken by Alex Nitzman (10/93).


  1. "Running Room on I-66." The Washington Post, September 8, 2003.
  2. Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System: Previous Interstate Facts of the Day by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Page Updated August 6, 2006.


State Virginia
Mileage 74.80
Cities Front Royal, Manassas, Fairfax, Vienna, Falls Church, Arlington
Junctions Interstate 81, Interstate 495
State District of Columbia
Mileage 1.48
Cities Washington
Junctions None
TOTAL 76.28
Source: October 31, 2002 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
Interstate 66 Annual Average Daily Traffic

State Location AADT Composite Year
Virginia Strasburg 24,000 2002
Virginia Fairfax 188,000 2002
Virginia Falls Church 131,000 2002
District of Columbia Washington 100,000 2000
Source: Virginia Department of Transportation 2002 AADT
2000 Traffic Volumes (District Division of Transportation - Traffic Services Division, Washington, D.C.)
Complete Interstate 66 AADT data.

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