Data on I-66 traffic patterns suggests that drivers are settling into the highway’s new dynamic tolling system, despite some moments where tolls spiked to eye-popping levels.
The Virginia Department of Transportation said travel times on I-66 Express Lanes in January were several minutes shorter than the same period a year ago, and that traffic generally moved quickly, especially during afternoon commutes. Arterial roads also saw better traffic speeds, except for George Washington Parkway, which saw longer higher travel times in January.
The average price for a round trip on I-66 was $12.37, though VDOT noted that 43% of drivers carpooled and thus paid nothing at all.
Here are some key data points from VDOT regarding I-66 travel in January:
- Morning travel times on I-66 declined 3.7 minutes compared to January of 2017, while afternoon trips were 2.8 minutes shorter.
- Travel speeds averaged 54.1 miles per hour in the morning, and 57.5 miles per hour in the afternoon. That’s up from 42.3 and 47.2 miles per hour last January.
- 43% of drivers used EZ-Pass in HOV mode and paid nothing.
- The average price for an eastbound trip was $8.07, and the average price for a westbound trip was $4.30.
- Travel time declined slightly on Route 7 and Route 29 but increased on the George Washington Parkway (from an average of 14.8 minutes to 16.2 minutes.)
- While tolls did spike above $40 during brief periods in January, that impacted only 461 trips out of 594,381.
Dynamic tolling on I-66 inside the Beltway went into effect in December as a way to encourage people to find commuting alternatives and reduce congestion. Under the system, tolls on I-66 will rise and fall depending on traffic conditions. Drivers can avoid tolls altogether by carpooling.
Do you think the I-66 Express Lanes are working?