The New Year has brought a new name for the Capital Beltway’s HOT Lanes. The name has changed from HOT Lanes to Express Lanes. But that isn’t the only change! To help travelers and commuters safely take advantage of the new travel options, a new website, http://www.495expresslanes.com, has been launched. By going to this site drivers can:
- Understand how the Express Lanes will improve your Beltway travel
- Learn how to use the new Express Lanes
- Plan your new route on the Express Lanes
- And best of all, get personalized Express Lanes information including customized directions and alerts you want
The Express Lanes are built through a public-private partnership between Chamber member Transurban-Fluor and the Virginia Department of Transportation. The Chamber encourages you to visit the new website and see the updates on the project.
The 495 Express Lanes will run down the middle of the Capital Beltway, and there will be several opportunities to enter the Lanes. If you’re already on the Beltway, you can enter just north of the Dulles Toll Road and just south of Braddock Road. There are also several entry and exit points to and from other highways and major side routes. The 495 Express Lanes are high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes that will operate on the I-495/Capital Beltway to provide you with faster and more predictable travel options on I-495. The 495 Express Lanes will be two new HOT lanes in each direction on the Virginia side of the Capital Beltway from the Springfield Interchange to just north of the Dulles Toll Road (approximately 14 miles). The Express Lanes are on schedule to be completed in late 2012 and will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
You will pay your toll on the Express Lanes with an E-ZPass® – there are no toll booths to slow you down. The electronic tolling equipment will charge your E-ZPass® account. The Express Lanes will have all-electronic tolling to keep you moving. Warning! There will be no toll booths or options to pay cash. Carpools can use the lanes without paying a toll. If you plan to carpool on the Express Lanes, you will need three people in the vehicle and a switchable E-ZPass® (available summer 2012). The switchable E-ZPass® is your way to tell the Express Lanes operator that you are carpooling and ensure you are not charged a toll. Buses, carpools (HOV-3+), motorcycles, and emergency vehicles can use the lanes without paying a toll. If you have fewer than three people in your car, you will pay a toll to use the lanes.
Tolls for the Express Lanes will be dynamic, meaning they will change periodically based on real-time traffic conditions to keep the lanes free flowing. It is not possible to predict exactly what the tolls will be at any given time. It is expected they will range from as low as 20 cents per mile during less busy times, to approximately $1 per mile in some sections of the Beltway during rush hour. The average trip cost is estimated to be between $5 and $6. The toll rate will be based upon the changing levels of traffic in the Express Lanes. Sensors alongside the road will monitor traffic levels and speed, and toll prices will adjust to maintain free flow in the lanes.
Anyone who normally uses this route would do well to visit the new website at http://www.495expresslanes.com.