Press Release

495 Express Lanes Reminds Drivers to Remain Cautious

Nov 19, 2012

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Alexandria, Va. – After the first weekday commute on the new roadway, 495 Express Lanes are reminding drivers to remain alert and to exercise caution when driving in and around the Express Lanes corridor.  Drivers planning to take advantage of the new travel option are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the new aspects of the road and obtain an E-ZPass® before they take their first trips.  All drivers are urged to use caution and be alert to changing traffic patterns, signage and new traffic signals.   

“We want to remind all drivers to remain alert and aware of the new traffic patterns on the Capital Beltway,” said Tim Steinhilber, Transurban’s general manager for the 495 Express Lanes Project.  “Driver safety is our priority and we are working to make sure all drivers understand how to safely take advantage of the Express Lanes.  We are currently looking to make enhancements where there has been driver confusion in the Springfield Interchange area at the southern end of the Express Lanes.”  
 
The Express Lanes project includes new traffic signals at most access points – including new access points at Jones Branch Drive, Westpark Drive and Route 29/Lee Highway.  Travelers are encouraged to stay alert and use caution on the secondary roads and highways around Express Lanes access points, which also include the Dulles Toll Road, Route 7, I-66, Gallows Road and Braddock Road.  
 
To help drivers stay alert and adjust to the major changes on the Beltway, Express Lanes operators, VDOT and the Virginia State Police are implementing the following improvements near the southern end of the Express Lanes:  
 
November 18 overnight:
  • Added additional colored reflectors to the channelizing posts (white barriers)
  • Changed digital messages on electronic signs to read: “new traffic pattern” and “use caution” and “two left lanes express lanes only”
Overnight tonight:
  • Extend merge area and alert drivers sooner to the Express Lanes entrance:
  • Heading north from Springfield Interchange, begin transitional striping (dotted line) in the area where the Springfield Interchange ramps meet the Beltway – this is nearly one mile south of current Express Lanes entrance; this striping more clearly indicates to drivers that the two left lanes will soon turn into Express Lanes
  • Heading north from Springfield Interchange, begin solid line warning drivers not to merge lanes approximately 700 feet sooner (further south) than where the solid line begins today
Express Lanes operators will continue to monitor the roadway and advance additional strategies over the coming days, including:
  • Add new pavement markings saying “E-ZPass” approximately one mile and “E-ZPass Only” one half mile before Express Lanes entrance
  • Further enhance channelizing posts in the area of the entrance
 
The 495 Express Lanes are the first road of its kind in the region to provide HOV service on the Capital Beltway – as well as the option for travelers to pay a toll for a faster and more predictable trip.  All drivers must have an E-ZPass to use the Express Lanes – there are no toll booths or options to pay cash.  Carpools with three or more people in the vehicle will need an E-ZPass® FlexSM set to HOV mode to ensure a toll-free trip on the Express Lanes.  Drivers should ensure that they travel with only one E-ZPass per vehicle and that the E-ZPass device is properly mounted. 
 
The 495 Express Lanes will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  The lanes will use dynamic pricing to keep traffic free flowing and provide a more predictable travel option on the Beltway.  Dynamic pricing based on real-time traffic conditions manages the demand for the lanes, keeping the Express Lanes moving.  Drivers will lock in their rate when they enter the lanes.  
 
About 495 Express Lanes
The 495 Express Lanes are new high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes that operate on the I-495/Capital Beltway to provide drivers faster and more predictable travel options on I-495. The two new HOT lanes in each direction on the Virginia side of the Capital Beltway are from the Springfield Interchange to just north of the Dulles Toll Road (approximately 14 miles).  Delivered through a public-private partnership between the Virginia Department of Transportation and Transurban-Fluor, the Express Lanes give drivers more freedom to control how and when they arrive at their destination.  For more information, please visit 495ExpressLanes.com.  
 
 
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