The 495 Express Lanes will open on November 17, 2012 providing Northern Virginia drivers with a faster, more predictable trip on the Virginia side of the Capital Beltway. To make sure you’re ready to use the Express Lanes when they open, check out the following top 10 things you need to know.
1. The 495 Express Lanes are high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes.
The Express Lanes will operate on the I-495/Capital Beltway to provide you with faster and more predictable travel options. The 495 Express Lanes are two new lanes in each direction on the Virginia side of the Capital Beltway from the Springfield Interchange to just north of the Dulles Toll Road (approximately 14 miles).
2. The 495 Express Lanes will use dynamic tolling.
This means the toll rate will change periodically based on real-time traffic conditions to keep the lanes free flowing.
We expect that the average toll during non rush hour times will be around $1-$2. During rush hour customers can expect a $3-$6 toll. These prices may go up or down, but are a good estimate.
You will lock in your toll rate when you enter the lanes, and you will be charged based on that rate and the distance you traveled in the Express Lanes. Read more about Express Lanes pricing.
3. All drivers will need an E-ZPass® or E-ZPass® Flex℠.
You must have an E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex to use the 495 Express Lanes. To learn more about E-ZPass options and find out how to get an E-ZPass, check out our Using E-ZPass page. To get an E-ZPass go to the Virginia or Maryland E-ZPass websites.
4. With E-ZPass Flex and three people in the car, you can get a toll-free trip in the Express Lanes.
E-ZPass Flex works like a regular E-ZPass, but will let you switch between HOV and toll-paying mode. If your E-ZPass Flex is switched to HOV mode and you have three or more passengers in the car when you travel through the Express Lanes, the toll equipment will read your E-ZPass information and you will not be charged a toll. If your E-ZPass Flex is switched to toll mode, it will be used to pay the toll on the Express Lanes.
E-ZPass Flex will pay tolls on any other road that accepts E-ZPass, regardless of the position of the switch. Learn more about E-ZPass Flex.
5. Before all Express Lanes entrances you will see two electronic message signs.
These signs will show the latest toll price information to three destinations so you can decide to use the Express Lanes or travel on the regular lanes. Check out examples of Express Lanes signage.
6. Virginia State Police will enforce the lanes with the help of technology.
If you don’t have an E-ZPass, roadside equipment will capture an image of your license plate and we will send you an invoice in the mail requesting payment of your toll and an administrative fee.
If you are carpooling, equipment on the side of the road will alert state police that you have identified yourself as HOV-3 through your E-ZPass Flex. State police will then do a visual check to make sure you indeed have three people in the car. Read more about enforcement.
7. The 495 Express Lanes will include three new Beltway entry and exit points.
This means a more direct route to popular locations in Tysons Corner and Merrifield. The Express Lanes are a limited access highway so you should plan your new route and learn how to access and exit the Express Lanes now using our mapping tools.
8. Safety is a priority.
The Express Lanes will be easy to use and get you where you need to go. However, there are some new aspects of the road that are worth learning about. Learn how to safely use the lanes.
9. Buses and motorcycles can travel on the Express Lanes for free.
Buses just need an E-ZPass. Motorcycles can travel on the Express Lanes anytime without paying a toll and do not need an E-ZPass. If you already have an E-ZPass on your motorcycle, you can leave it in place when you travel on the 495 Express Lanes. The system will detect that you're traveling via motorcycle and not charge you a toll. Learn more about the rules of the road.
10. Get answers to your questions.
For more information on enforcement, tolling and operations, visit the 495 Express Lanes FAQs web page.
For more information about the 495 Express Lanes, please explore the rest of the website.
We'll see you in the Express Lanes.