The I-495 Express Lanes opened early Saturday morning, providing drivers with alternatives to the oft-crowded general purpose lanes — and the Virginia State Police want drivers to remember that they’ll be on the lookout for violators.
“Safety and compliance are essential to the effectiveness of the 495 Express Lanes,” said Capt. Mike Spivey, the Fairfax Division Commander for the Virginia State Police, in a statement. “The same ‘rules of the road’ that apply to the general purpose lanes are also in effect on the new express lanes and will be strictly enforced by our troopers.”
All travelers who wish to use the lanes will need an E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex. Carpools of three or more with an E-ZPass Flex will be able to switch their transponder to HOV-mode and enjoy a toll-free ride.
The HOV-three rule will be enforced by cameras on the electronic toll gantries and by Virginia State Police Officers. Drivers who violate the HOV-three rule will be ticketed, police officials said.
Drivers will be able to travel lanes at the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit, but toll prices are still uncertain.
They’re projected to be $3 to $6 during rush hour, and $1 to $2 during lower traffic periods. Toll prices will be updated in real time depending on congestion — the worse the congestion, the higher the toll.
Officials urge travelers to get their E-ZPass transponders before they use the lanes to avoid getting pulled over. Drivers using the lanes for HOV purposes should change their E-ZPass Flex to HOV-mode before pulling out of their driveways, police said.
Drivers with an E-ZPass on the bumpers of their cars can nominate their transponders for HOV travel online or by phone (1-877-762-7824), but must do so at least 30 minutes before entering the lanes.
Furthermore, commuters who plan to use the lanes should get acquainted with them on the web-site and map their routes out beforehand in order to avoid confusion on the road.
The lanes had their first official rider Friday morning; Santa used them to get to his workshop at the Tysons Galleria.