Press Release

Major Traffic Changes Ahead: Beltway Drivers Urged to Prepare for Safe Travel on the 495 Express Lanes

Oct 22, 2012

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Alexandria, Va. – The 495 Express Lanes – set to open later this year – will be easy to use and provide Beltway drivers with a faster, more predictable trip.  However, the 495 Express Lanes will bring new traffic movements and traffic signals.  It’s important drivers learn about what’s coming to make sure they are prepared to safely use the Express Lanes. To help drivers understand how to safely use the lanes, 495 Express Lanes encourages drivers to use the online tools available on the 495 Express Lanes website at 495ExpressLanes.com/staying-safe.

“The 495 Express Lanes will deliver new choices on the Capital Beltway for Northern Virginians,” said John Lynch, VDOT's regional transportation program director.  “Along with these choices come changes to travel patterns, new signals and the need for drivers to know before they go.  We urge all travelers to learn about the 495 Express Lanes so they know what to expect when they open later this year.”

Drivers can watch the 495 Express Lanes Safety video available on the 495 Express Lanes website:  495expresslanes.com/video/378.  The video, featuring Captain Susan Culin from the Fairfax County Police Department and Captain Michael A. Spivey from the Virginia State Police, outlines how drivers can plan for a safe trip in the Express Lanes.  Drivers can also visit the Staying Safe page on the website to read about how to safely travel in the Express Lanes: 495ExpressLanes.com/staying-safe.  

“Knowing the rules of the road and how to safely use the Express Lanes is critical to ensuring a smoother, more predictable trip,” said Tim Steinhilber, Transurban’s general manager for the 495 Express Lanes Project.  “With the Express Lanes set to open later this year, we encourage all drivers to familiarize themselves with the new aspects of the road so they are prepared to take advantage of the new travel option.”

To stay safe in the 495 Express Lanes, drivers should:

  • Pull to the Left:  To stop for any reason while traveling on the Express Lanes, drivers should pull to the left to access the shoulder.
  • Mind the Barrier:  The 495 Express Lanes are separated from the regular lanes by a barrier of channelizing posts.  Drivers should never cross the barrier – it is dangerous and illegal.  
  • Avoid Distractions:  Drivers should keep their eyes on the road when traveling on the Express Lanes or any other road.  Distracted driving increases the risk of an accident four-fold.


Drivers should also be on the lookout for new traffic flows as the Express Lanes will bring new traffic signals, ramps and traffic patterns.  It is important that drivers visit 495ExpressLanes.com to plan their trip before accessing the lanes.  While on the road, drivers should follow the signage to arrive safely.

Enforcing the rules of the road and protecting drivers is a priority for the 495 Express Lanes.  Virginia State Police will patrol the lanes and enforce the HOV-3+ rules.  All drivers will need an E-ZPass® to use the Express Lanes – there are no toll booths or options to pay cash.  Carpoolers will need the new E-ZPass® FlexSM for a toll-free trip on the Express Lanes.  Additionally, if a driver breaks down while traveling, 495 Express Lanes will dispatch its dedicated safety service patrol, Express Assist, to get them safely back on their way.

The 495 Express Lanes are two new high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes in each direction from the Springfield Interchange to just north of the Dulles Toll Road on the Virginia side of the Capital Beltway.  The 14-mile Express Lanes will be free for carpoolers with three or more people, buses, motorcycles and emergency vehicles.  Other drivers may pay a toll for a faster, more predictable trip.  

The 495 Express Lanes are on schedule to be completed in late 2012 and 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 and pay tolls electronically with E-ZPass.  

In addition to providing drivers with an option for a more predictable trip, the 495 Express Lanes will include three new Beltway entry and exit points meaning a safer and more direct route to popular locations in Tysons Corner and Merrifield.

About 495 Express Lanes
The 495 Express Lanes are new high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes that will 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).  Being delivered through a public-private partnership between the Virginia Department of Transportation and Transurban-Fluor, the Express Lanes will give drivers the freedom to control how and when they arrive at their destination.  For more information, please visit 495ExpressLanes.com.  


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