Alexandria, Va.–The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the 95 Express Lanes are reminding drivers to remain alert and exercise caution when driving in and around the Express Lanes corridor in the coming days as the new lanes, traffic patterns and access points will open to traffic on Sunday, December 14.
Roadway improvements for the 29-mile corridor of new express lanes have been completed early. The added capacity and new entries/exits are opening to traffic to allow drivers to try the new roadway during the holiday season and become acclimated with the new traffic patterns. Standard HOV rules will be in effect during rush hour until the Express Lanes transition from non-tolled lanes to tolled lanes on December 29.
Transitioning the existing HOV lanes to the 95 Express Lanes will bring new options, as well as fundamental changes for drivers. All drivers need to remain cautious, alert and aware when traveling on the new additions to the roadway including the nine-mile extension and new entry and exit points.
Drivers should keep the following safety tips and rules of the road in mind before traveling on the Express Lanes:
- Like today's HOV lanes, the Express Lanes will be reversible. The entry and exit points will open and close depending on which direction traffic is flowing – letting you know if you can enter the Express Lanes. Gate transition time on the HOV and Express Lanes facilities is expected to increase due to the nine mile southern extension and new gates. On Monday, December 15, the gates will begin to close at 10:30 a.m. instead of 11 a.m. to help accommodate southbound traffic in the afternoon. Ultimately, the gate transition will return to standard times experienced today
- If you ever need to stop while on the Express Lanes, locate the closest shoulder, pull over and stay in your car. You should not get out of your vehicle unless it's an emergency – additionally you should never stop, attempt to reverse or slow your vehicle down to dangerous speeds while driving in traffic
- Be sure to follow directions on dynamic message signs at entry points and once on the Express Lanes
- Stay alert as new traffic patterns are introduced and avoid distractions – such as using cell phones, driving while drowsy or eating in the car
“Safety is – and will remain – the top priority for the 95 Express Lanes,” said Nic Barr, Vice President, Operations, Transurban. “We’re glad travelers can benefit from the additional capacity during the holiday season without having to a pay a toll, and encourage travelers to try the Express Lanes over the next two weeks to become familiar with the new lanes and entry and exit points. Drivers who plan to take advantage of the Express Lanes when they open for tolling on December 29 need to obtain an E-ZPass®or E-ZPass®FlexSMand ensure they’re familiar with the rules of the road.”
Standard HOV rules will continue to be in effect during rush hour until tolling begins on December 29 – at which point HOV/tolling rules will be in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Beginning Monday, December 29, all drivers must have an E-ZPass to use the Express Lanes. Carpoolers, sluggers or those who travel frequently with three or more people in their vehicle will need an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode to travel toll-free 24/7.
E-ZPass and E-ZPass Flex are available at 75 convenient Northern Virginia retail locations including Wegmans, select Virginia DMVs and Giant Food Stores; at E-ZPass Customer Service Centers; online or by calling Virginia E-ZPass at 877-762-7824.
Beginning today, December 12 through Sunday, December 14, we will unveil all Express Lanes signage. All HOV lanes will be closed starting the evening of Friday, December 12 until the evening of Sunday, December 14. Throughout the weekend there will also be mobile lane closures on I-95 to complete work to open the 95 Express Lanes.
About the 95 Express Lanes
The 95 Express Lanes will open on December 14 and tolling will begin on December 29. The 95 Express Lanes will provide travelers with faster, more predictable travel options. The project will add capacity and extend and improve the performance of the existing HOV lanes. The 95 Express Lanes will operate from I-95 near Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to the vicinity of Edsall Road on I-395 in Fairfax County (approximately 29 miles). The 95 Express Lanes are being delivered through a public-private partnership between VDOT and Transurban with Fluor-Lane 95, LLC leading construction. For more information, please visit 95ExpressLanes.com.
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