Northern Virginia I95 High Occupancy Toll Lanes are going to be HOT
Anyone who commutes on a regular basis via Interstate 95 in northern Virginia will no doubt eagerly welcome the 95 Express Lanes, a nearly $1 billion project financed, constructed and operated under the state’s Public-Private Transportation Act. These lanes are definitely an idea whose time has come – we have been waiting for some kind of transportation relief for many years.
The purpose of the approximately 29 miles of Express Lanes – also known as for High Occupancy Toll or HOT Lanes- is to
- keep traffic moving
- help drivers maintain travel speeds
- make travel times more predictable.
By using dynamic tolling – tolls will adjust based on real-time traffic conditions (in other words, the more traffic on the Express Lanes, the lower the toll and vice versa) – along with video technology to identify accidents, additional state troopers and electronic signage, traffic capacity will be increased on the existing HOV lanes.
Additionally, the existing HOV lanes from Route 234 to Prince William Parkway will be improved and a 9 mile reversible two lane extension of the existing HOV lanes from Dumfries to Garrisonville Road in Stafford County will help alleviate the worst traffic bottleneck in the area.
There will be no toll booths on the HOT lanes; all users must have an E-ZPass – and if you carpool, you will need an E-ZPass Flex, which lets you switch between HOV and toll-paying modes. Oh, and if you’re thinking how smart it would be to simply switch to HOV mode even if you’re in the car alone, it’s not advisable – state troopers will be stationed all along the new lanes to insure compliance.
Who will be able to use the HOT lanes? Anyone! High occupancy vehicles (HOV 3+), buses, motorcycles and emergency vehicles will travel toll-free; if you have fewer than 3 people in your car, you pay a toll, but in exchange, you will be gaining a more reliable and faster commute.
The excellent VDOT video below explains it all in greater detail, so if you have 5 minutes to spare, take a look.