Virginia transportation officials say they are pleased with how the mega projects are progressing including the new Express Lanes along the Beltway, formerly known as HOT lanes. News4's Julie Carey reports.
The 14-mile stretch of the new Interstate 495 Express Lanes are on track to be open by the end of the year.
And on Thursday, VDOT officials gave an update on the look of the Express Lanes, which are 90 percent completed, and how they will operate.
There will be no gates on the lanes, which go from Springfield to the Dulles Toll Road. Instead, E-ZPass transponders will calculate tolls on the road as you enter and exit. Those tolls will vary depending on how far drivers go.
Starting this summer, those who carpool will be able to turn in their current E-ZPass transponders for a new E-ZPass Flex transponder. That will allow drivers to use the transponder in both HOV-3 mode and non-HOV mode with the flip of a switch. HOV-3 qualifies for toll-free travel.
Officials estimated that by using the Express Lanes, commutes from Springfield to Tysons Corner would be cut in half. However, officials believe that most users will only take the new road for about three miles. They said most people are not expected to use it for a daily commute, since that three-mile trip could cost $5 or $6. Sensors will monitor traffic 24 hours a day and the system will adjust toll prices as necessary.
In order to patrol the road and enforce HOV restrictions, 11 state troopers will be hired, with a private contractor footing the bill. The Express Lanes themselves are a public-private partnership between VDOT, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Federal Highway Administration and Transurban-Fluor.
For more information on the new road, visit 495ExpressLanes.com.