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Virginia HOT Lanes - 495 Express Lanes

What are HOT Lanes? Will They Improve Virginia Traffic?


What are HOT Lanes?

HOT lanes are high-occupancy toll lanes that operate alongside existing highway lanes to provide users with a faster travel option.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is currently adding two HOT lanes to the Capital Beltway (I-495) in each direction from just west of the Springfield Interchange to just north of the Dulles Toll Road. The project includes 14 miles of new express lanes and the replacement of more than 50 bridges, overpasses, and major interchanges. Buses, carpools of at least three people, motorcycles and emergency vehicles will be able to access the HOT lanes for free while drivers with fewer than three occupants will pay a toll. The Virginia HOT lanes construction began in the summer of 2008. They opened on November 17, 2012.

How will the HOT Lane Tolls Work?

Tolls for the HOT lanes will change based on real-time traffic conditions. When traffic increases, the tolls will go up. When traffic decreases, tolls will go down. They will range from 20 cents per mile to a dollar per mile. The average trip cost is estimated to be about $5-6. All vehicles traveling on the HOT lanes will be required to have an E-ZPass transponder. If you want to have the option of switching between traveling in HOV or toll-paying mode, you will need to have a new, switchable transponder. If the transponder is switched to HOV mode and the vehicle is carrying three or more passengers, the driver will not be charged a toll. The switchable E-ZPass can be used to pay tolls on any other road that accepts E-ZPass.

Will HOT Lanes Improve Virginia Traffic?

The construction of the HOT lanes has been a highly controversial subject. Only time will tell whether the new lanes will make a big difference in easing Virginia traffic. Drivers, environmentalists, and transportation researchers increasingly question whether the benefits of the lanes exceed their costs. Critics charge that HOT lanes benefit only the wealthy, but research has indicated that drivers of all economic means will use the lanes. Will you use the HOT Lanes? Take a poll and tell us how you intend to use the lanes.

For more information, visit www.virginiahotlanes.com

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