RICHMOND, Va. – In an effort to provide wealthy commuters with an exclusive roadway to and from the nation’s capital, the Virginia Department of Transportation announced on Tuesday that it will begin enforcing a new set of rules aimed at deterring middle and lower class commuters from using Interstate 66.
“If you drive a vehicle that, at point of sale, is valued under $60,000 then Interstate 66 is not the road for you,” VDOT spokesperson Nikki Haines explained during a press briefing on Tuesday. Alternatively, drivers who fail to meet the requirements for Interstate 66 – but still rely on it for their morning commute – will have the opportunity to use a newly constructed semi-parallel single lane dirt road. “The advantage here is that this road is essentially toll-free,” Haines said, noting that some drivers have strongly protested the implementation of tolls along I-66.
Under VDOT’s new guidelines, only American and European-made vehicles manufactured in the last five years with a base price of $60,000 or above will be permitted on Virginia’s 395-mile stretch of I-66. “Vehicle modifications such as aftermarket exhausts, spoilers, and modified head or tail lights are prohibited,” Haines said, adding that any vehicle found to be in violation of the law will be seized on location by Virginia State Police. To add insult to injury, violators can expect to face a mandatory five-year suspension of driving privileges.
While some may find VDOT’s rules slightly authoritarian, Virginia officials say they’re meant to ensure that individuals who meet the qualifications are given the best driving experience possible. “Commuters will be treated to clear lanes and freshly paved roads that are cooled in the summer and heated in the winter,” Haines explained, continuing, “In addition, automated wash stations are scheduled for installation at all on-ramps along the Virginia stretch of I-66.” At just $226,000 a pop, the state-of-the-art wash stations are guaranteed to provide commuters with peace of mind in knowing their vehicles will enter I-66 in “pristine condition.”
Coupled with the introduction of new dynamic toll lanes, the new I-66 vehicle restrictions are part of a larger effort by the Virginia Department of Transportation to reduce traffic in the already congested Washington metropolitan area. In addition, officials say a portion of the new toll revenue will be used to benefit Northern Virginia public schools, which have some of the highest college acceptance rates in the country.