The commute for hundreds of thousands along the Beltway in northern Virginia is about to change, but does everybody understand how these express lanes will work?
Consider this Express Lanes 101.
The express lanes on the west side of the Virginia Beltway will be an all-electronic toll road, no toll booths. Drivers will need an E-ZPass to ride. The toll gets tacked on to E-ZPass by overhead gantries.
In exchange for the toll, drivers are promised speedy commutes. The lanes are expected to keep moving at 55 mph even during rush hours.
To keep traffic moving, the toll varies, rising and falling based on the level of congestion. The idea is that some people will be priced out and traffic can keep moving. It could cost about a dollar per mile.
Carpools with three or more people don’t have to pay the toll, but drivers need E-ZPass Flex, which has a high-occupancy vehicle setting, to avoid the toll.
Some items still need to be wrapped up on the express lanes, but they should be ready to open in about two weeks.