FAIRFAX, Va. - Express lanes are opening soon on Interstate-66 inside the Beltway.
In just a few short weeks, anyone can travel on the express lanes of I-66, from I-495 to Route 29 in Rosslyn, on weekdays during rush hours.
"I-66 is unique today in the nation. It's the only interstate that's HOV only during rush hour. There's not a single interstate in the entire country that works that way, so now that we're converting it to express lanes, it's also going to be a first in the nation where all of the lanes are dynamically priced during rush hour," said Nick Donohue, Deputy Secretary of Transportation, VDOT.
Anyone can use the lanes, but you'll need to know the rules of the road:
- If you're alone in a car, you'll pay a toll with an EZ Pass. Just make sure you don't leave your transponder on the HOV option if you're alone, because you'll be fined.
- If you're carpooling with two or more people, you can travel in the lanes for free with an EZ Pass Flex.
- Motorcycles travel free, but hybrids will now need a pass.
"They'll begin to be able to make that choice. 'Do I want to take that trip on the 66 express lanes and pay that toll?' Again, if there're two in the vehicle, and they have a flex transponder in HOV mode, then they're riding for free," said Charlie Kilpatrick, Commissioner, VDOT.
All of this is managed through dynamic tolling. Basically, that means the more traffic there is, the higher the price of the toll.
Officials said you can expect prices to be similar to those on I-95, but you'll see plenty of signage before you get on the express lanes.
Those tolls are reinvested in the I-66 corridor to help fund new transit routes.
"It is really based on the volume and the speed, and as speed goes down, the price does go up. The reason for that again is to make sure that we are maintaining traffic flow through the corridor," said Kilpatrick.
Opening day for the express lanes is Dec. 4, so you can expect to see workers checking up on equipment between now and then.