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I-495 Express Lanes Nearing Completion

Officials briefed news media Wednesday on Beltway toll Express Lanes construction.

The I-495 Express Lanes are in the final phase of construction and should be operational by late fall 2012, officials said during a news briefing Wednesday morning.

The lanes, which have been undergoing testing for the last couple of months, will bring faster, easier and pricier trips to commuters, but they’ll also bring major traffic changes.

“This is the biggest single traffic change for this region since the opening of I-66 30 years ago,” said Jennifer Aument, vice president of Transurban-Fluor, the company building the lanes. “So all drivers, whether they plan to use the Express Lanes or not, need to be alert and be prepared.”

Aument urged carpoolers to purchase their E-ZPass Flex transponders and learn as much as they can about the lane operations before they open. New EZ-Pass customers can get a week of toll-free travel when the lanes open if they create an account during October.

All travelers who wish to use the express lanes when they open will need an E-ZPass or an E-ZPass Flex. Flex users will be able to switch to HOV mode and avoid paying a toll if they have three or more people in the car.

Drivers should expect to pay somewhere between $3 to $6 for a roundtrip on the Express lanes in rush hour, and $1 to $2 during less congested periods.

Aument said tolls on the road aren’t established ahead of time – instead, they’re adjusted in real time depending on congestion levels.

Aument equated the opening of the Express Lanes to the “first day of school,” and said commuters need to visit the I-495 Express Lanes website before they open to orient themselves and map their routes.

The 14-mile stretch of high-tech toll lanes will run from the Mixing Bowl interchange in Springfield to just North of the Dulles Toll Road.

Officials held the briefing at the Express Lanes operations center in Alexandria, which will be manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week when the lanes open. There, operators will handle enforcement and emergency response.

Virginia State Troopers will patrol the lanes to enforce the tolling, with beefed up police presence during rush hours.

Anwar Tareen October 18, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Where to get E-ZPASS? What will be off rush hours?
Beth Lawton October 18, 2012 at 12:16 AM
You can get an EZ Pass Flex here online: https://www.495expresslanes.com/using-ezpass. And rush hour(s) will be determined in part by traffic volume on the roadways, not necessarily a set time period.
Kevin October 18, 2012 at 12:58 PM
After reading the propaganda, I'm getting the sense that this is a repeat of the Greenway debacle. Overpriced and unaffordable. I'd be interested in seeing if they use predictive analytics to avert high loads on the lanes before they get overloaded. It would make no sense to take the express lanes only to be stuck in a bottleneck when departing the lanes. I for one would never pay the premium to save 10 minutes on a 60 minute commute because I-66 is still going to be backed up all the way to Fair Oaks, and beyond.
Mary Lou October 18, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Is the price of a commute to DC the same on I 95 as on I 495!

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