Anyone can use the I-66 Inside the Beltway Express Lanes when they open Dec. 4—as long as they’re willing to pay. There will be new rules, tolls and hours for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s newest addition to its network of Express Lanes across the Washington, D.C. metro area. Here are the 6 Ws:
What are the Express Lanes?
The I-66 Express Lanes Inside the Beltway, from I-495 to Virginia Route 29 in Rosslyn, will be in operation weekdays during rush hours in the peak commute direction (eastbound: 5:30-9:30 a.m., westbound: 3-7 p.m.). The lanes will be free with no tolling or HOV requirements at all other times.
Who can use them?
Lone motorists can now use the I-66 lanes during rush hour, as long as they’re willing to pay (see below). Buses, HOV-2+ carpoolers and motorcyclists can use the Express Lanes for free.
When can we use them?
The Express Lanes inside the Beltway open Dec. 4. They’ll be active Monday through Friday—at 5:30-9:30 a.m. eastbound and 3-7 p.m. westbound. In other words, during the morning and afternoon rush hour periods.
What do we need to use them?
If driving alone, you’ll need to pay a toll with an E-ZPass. If you’re in an HOV-2+ carpool vehicle, you can travel for free with an E-ZPass Flex in HOV mode, which permits vehicles to use the Express Lanes for free. E-ZPasses are available from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle stations, AAA locations in the Mid-Atlantic region, some Giant and Wegmans supermarkets and online. Click here to learn more.
What will it cost?
Greater demand to use the Express Lanes to drive up the cost, and the final charge will reflect the distance traveled. Electronic signs will display current toll prices at each entry point. Drivers will see two pricing signs before committing to take the Express Lanes. Drivers will lock in their toll price automatically when entering the Express Lanes. Signs will show the prices for up to three destinations. Even if your exit is not displayed, you will be able to get a general idea of the toll to your destination.
VDOT officials have previously declined to predict how much tolls might cost, but they’ve previously said that a $17 average round trip figure is a bit high.
What else to we need to know?
- You can only drive 55 mph.
- Motorists can access the Express Lanes at all entrances and exits along I-66.
- E-ZPass is the sole method of payment.
- Don’t be surprised if there’s additional traffic on adjacent roads. Drivers looking to pinch a penny will try alternate routes, including the George Washington Memorial Parkway, Route 50, Route 29, and Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards.