The new 14-mile stretch of high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes in Virginia on the Capital Beltway will be opening weeks ahead of schedule, prompting Virginia Department of Transportation to educate the driving public on how to use the new express lanes.
VDOT says the lanes could be open as early as next weekend. The lanes were originally projected to be done sometime in December. The project was announced last year as a way to improve access to major Virginia employment centers and military sites.
"The 495 Express Lanes are on track to open earlier than expected in November which means drivers must take steps now to prepare to use the new lanes," said VDOT Commissioner Greg Whirley in a statement. "This facility will have a regional impact on all travelers. We need drivers to be prepared for the changes in traffic patterns and new rules of the road. If you plan to use the Express Lanes, make sure you have an E-ZPass."
The new HOT lanes, located in each direction beginning at the Springfield Interchange and ending north of the Dulles Toll Road, can be utilized for free by buses, motorcyclists, emergency vehicles, and vehicles carrying at least three people. The new toll lanes do not include any toll booths, so all vehicles must be equipped with an E-ZPass to use the new lanes. The express lanes will be open 24 hours per day, all seven days of the week.
More information on VDOT's 495 Express Lanes project is available at bit.ly/495express.