Changes to the new express lanes on Interstate 495 in northern Virginia have been made, however that's not stopping the confusion for drivers.
Since the lanes opened Saturday, half-dozen crashes have been reported – unusual for one place. In addition to the accidents, there’ve been many close calls the past few days as drivers are not sure which way to go. Some stop in the middle of the highway. Some back into oncoming traffic.
“With the opening of a project like this, with the 495 express lanes, new ramps, new traffic signals, a major transition down the Springfield area, we expected driver confusion,” said Pierce Coffee of Transurban, the company that operates the lanes.
The problem seems to be simple awareness. Some drivers do not realize they are about to enter the express lanes until the last second.
Project leaders said they will be making further adjustments to the design of the road.
“Drivers will start to see two different things,” Coffee said. “We’ll add on the pavement messaging that says, ‘E-ZPass only,’ so people know, these two left lanes, I’m going to need an E-ZPass, which is another indication that the 495 express lanes are starting. Also what we’re going to do is add some more black and yellow posts at the entry point.”
Dotted and solid lines have already been extended on the road to further designate the regular Beltway lanes from the express lanes.
“We’re watching the whole 14 miles of the 495 express lanes, and as we need to make adjustments to help drivers, we absolutely will work with VDOT and the Virginia State Police to do that,” Coffee said.