WASHINGTON — Plans to build a flyover ramp near the Dunn Loring Metro Station as part of the Interstate 66 express lanes project have been scrapped, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Wednesday.
Neighbors complained that updated design plans released in March were worse than the initial design and said that the state transportation officials weren't listening to their concerns regarding noise, light and the aesthetics of the design.
"We're canceling it because of the public input," McAuliffe said.
The decision was made last week during a meeting at the governor's office, he said.
Another solution will have to be found to accommodate, or possibly move, a Metro power substation to make room for the extra lanes, he said.
The $2.3 billion project will add two express lanes in both directions along the interstate from the Capital Beltway to Gainesville.
The revised plans called for building a tall flyover ramp that would cross above the substation, a pedestrian bridge and Gallows Road. A technical review of the design was delayed in order to give local officials more time to scrutinize the plans.
On the Clintons and a possible McAuliffe run for Congress
McAuliffe gave an impassioned defense of his 40-year friendship with Bill and Hillary Clinton in response to a question about how that relationship could affect his wife, Dorothy McAuliffe, should she run for Congress.
"I do not, ever, walk away from my friends," he said. "I'm proud of my relationship with the Clintons," he said, describing the couple as "our best friends."
The ultimate political animal, the former DNC chair also plugged the success of those friends, calling Bill Clinton was a "spectacular" president and noting his high approval ratings when he left the Oval Office. He called Hillary Clinton, whose 2008 presidential campaign McAuliffe ran, a great senator and secretary of state.
He shared that his children have traveled the world with the Clintons over the years.
"We love the Clintons," McAuliffe said after the show. "But this is a race about the 10th congressional district. It has nothing to do with Bill and Hillary Clinton."
A race for governor
McAuliffe said he would support Tom Perriello if the former congressman should win the June Democratic primary. But in the meantime, he is backing Ralph Northam, the lieutenant governor and former state senator who has the support of most of the state's elected Democrats.
Perriello, of Charlottesvile, has received support from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has campaigned on a more progressive platform than Northam, of Norfolk.
McAuliffe said that's not a sign of a party fracturing, but of primary politics.
"The most important thing for me is to make sure that a Democrat is in (the) office," said McAuliffe, who is barred by term limits from seeking a second term as governor.
Three Republicans are vying for their party's nomination in the race for governor. Virginia's off-cycle elections are seen as bellwethers of the electorate and the race for governor is no exception as it comes during President Donald Trump's first year in office.
McAuliffe said he's never seen such passion in the state's voters, who are experiencing "a hangover against President Trump." That's increased turnout at committee meetings and helped recruit candidates to run office.
"They are tired of the tweets. They want results and he has given us nothing," McAuliffe said.