Best Innovative Project of 2021: I-66

Pablo Molla, Project Manager, presents I-66 Outside the Beltway Project in Virginia

Hi, everyone, my name is Pablo Mollá and I’m the Project Manager for the I-66 Outside the Beltway Project in Virginia. The I-66 project is re-constructing approximately 23 miles in each direction of the I-66 corridor and adding two new express toll lanes in each direction between I-495, the Capital Beltway, and Route 29 in Gainesville Virginia, transforming a critical northern Virginia artery to Washington, DC. When complete, the Project will provide congestion relief, improve safety, and bring more predictable commute times for the travelling public throughout the I-66 corridor. The Project is being developed for I-66 Express Mobility Partners, a Cintra led consortium, and is being constructed while maintaining traffic for an average of 200,000 vehicles per day along a densely populated corridor.

The Project has required not only daily coordination with the client, Virginia Department of Transportation, but ongoing and frequent coordination and interaction with many other local, state and federal agencies, and a significant number of stakeholder and community groups. In the United States, with its long tradition of democracy and voicing opinions, public involvement and engagement plays an important role in the acceptance and development of transportation projects.  And here in the Washington, DC region, the nation’s political center, politics and public engagement have played a large role in the development of this Project.

To explain the complexity and challenges facing I-66, let me share just of few numbers with you:

$650 Million in production

The I-66 Project has reached a record production for two years in a row, with over $650 Million in production per year, with peaks at over $70 Million a month

1 million tons of asphalt in 2021

In 2021 alone, over 1 million tons of asphalt were laid for new travel lanes throughout the corridor

2000 people every day

An average of 2000 people worked on the Project every day in 2021, resulting in over 3 million manhours worked in just one year.

And all this has been done with the complexity of maintaining traffic, keeping the team safe during COVID-19 and maintaining compliance with environmental regulations as well as the environmental permits conditions under which the project operates. Reducing the impacts of the construction activity on the local and regional watershed, specifically managing stormwater runoff from our construction areas, has been challenging due to the scope and magnitude of the project.

Innovation at the core of the I-66 Project

Innovation has been at the core of the I-66 Project. The team here in Virginia is motivated to come up with new ideas, and better ways to do things, every day. We have fostered an environment where innovation is shared, where team members are encouraged to bring forward new ideas, with the confidence that all proposals and possibilities are analyzed and considered. We also have built a diverse team, with more than 25 nationalities represented, bringing varied experiences and fresh perspectives.

All our engineers are constantly thinking about ways to optimize the solutions initially proposed for this complex project, from the design phase through to the construction phase. This is especially relevant in the context we are working in -where we are attempting to bring new solutions to a client who is more localistic, accustomed to more traditional solutions, and reactive to things they have not seen implemented previously. We have brought in ideas from all over the world and have been successful in implementing a number of them, working closely with VDOT to convince them of these innovations. An example of this, originally the client was reluctant to accept any drawings that were not produced by one of the three engineering firms that developed the initial project design.  After the Joint-venture was able to successfully certify as an engineering firm, now VDOT is accepting designs developed by Ferrovial Construction.

We have undergone a significant effort to reuse materials to reduce our carbon footprint. During our general excavation for the Project, we have recycled over 430,000 Tn of crushed concrete, and have reused 1 million tons of crushed stone, and old pavement millings are also being recycled as backfill.

We have also implemented technological solutions that help us optimize the valuable resources we have in our Survey department.  Using 3D scans and various applications that have improved our internal processes, we have been able to meet our extensive contractual requirements without adding more need of surveyor hours. Adapting to digitalization and embracing new technologies is essential for overall efficiency.

I want to thank the entire team for their open-mindedness, dedication, and commitment to making continuous improvement through innovative processes, which have been critical to the success we are seeing here on I-66.

I hope you all enjoy this issue of Innovate Magazine and take the opportunity to learn more about the I-66 Project and all the innovations that have been developed and implemented here.


  • Brenda Torres

    Impressive views of this Innovative and Large Project. Proud to be part of it. Congratulations to all who have put all the efforts to be where we at. Keep up the great job!