Skip to comments.Beltway express lanes creating a learning curve for drivers
Posted on 12/16/2012 1:43:08 PM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
There arent more, because some people just dont like to pay tolls, and others havent figured how they can take advantage of the lanes.
Transurban is happy to have anybodys toll money, whether they are locals or long-distance travelers, but the lanes are designed largely for the benefit of local travelers. The entrance and exit system reflects that.
The Tysons area business and civic leaders with whom Ive talked express optimism about the lanes and seem hopeful about the two new access points at Westpark Drive and Jones Branch Drive.
At this early stage, the most vexing thing about the lanes is figuring how, when and where to use them.
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
How is one supposed to know whether to consider using these lanes for a given trip? Where I enter the Capital Beltway, at Gallows Road, I must commit either to main lanes or express lanes without being able to see the traffic in the main lanes, which is obviously what motivates the decision.
Signs display only tolls, not main-lane travel time to any exit. The VDOT suggests checking online or calling 511 to learn how traffic is moving, but thats not something most people will do for every trip.
And with no chance to transition between the express lanes and the regular, most people, I think, wont use the new lanes, although on some trips we all might wish we had.
DG: This sort of cost-benefit analysis over lane choices is completely new to drivers in the Washington region, and so far, were not very good at it. But well learn.
Id like to hear from drivers about how theyre making picks. Here are some thoughts.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
The local drivers had plenty of time to learn about the lanes, but they didn’t. I weep for the future.
Maryland “Freak State” PING!
Can you use money on them? I won’t use them because I’m afraid you need a Smart Pass (or whatever it’s called).
Thanks for posting this!
You will need an E-Z Pass to drive the lanes. However, you can also get an E-Z Pass Flex, presumably from VDOT, so that if you have 2 or more passengers, you can switch it to the “free” setting and ride in the lanes for no charge.
It might be worth it. Even when traffic is flowing in the free lanes, you still have slow drivers to contend with. If I can pay 2 bucks to get around those morons, I will.
It was odd at first to see cars in front of you suddenly swerve out of the left lane, off the pavement and across the divide steering to go in the opposite direction . . . .
I read in the W-P at the time Carter became president that the big book of DOs and DON'Ts handed off from one administration to another contained the instruction to never permit the Dulles access road to be used by commuters.
I suspect now that we've had our once in 150 years major earthquake they'll figure out how to double deck the thing!
It connects Dulles Airport to the Beltway ~ which is why it was never opened to commuters.
Subsequently it has been paralleled by a tollroad. I believe the new Silverline, at least in part, uses the same right of way to connect Dulles Airport with the Metro Orange line.
The road that is missing in all of this is a high speed connector between the Fairfax Parkway (formerly Springfield Bypass) and the Prince William Parkway at or near Yates Ford.
That will reduce my travel time from here to Manassas by 25 minutes!
I can't buy one of those passes. It would make me feel like I've surrendered!
Haven’t been on the Beltway since 1992, and I still have nightmares.
I keep hearing rumors that they want to make that road HOV-10 and require the traffic to go to the airport, and STILL charge a toll.
Oh, and only commercial and transit traffic to the airport is now allowed on the road. POV’s are not allowed (they can enter at the ramp right before the airport)
Kane gave the Dulles toll road to the Feds when he was gov.
The first driver’s issue isn’t really about not knowing ABOUT the lanes, it is that the way they are designed, you have to decide whether to take the toll lanes or not before you see whether traffic is backed up or not.
So you skip the toll, turn the corner, get stopped in traffic, and wish you had turned on the toll road.
There are huge signs telling you how much money it will cost. Eventually, people will learn how to translate between that cost and the main road traffic, since they are supposed to change the costs as traffic gets worse.
But what they SHOULD do is provide on that sign the estimated travel time on the regular road and the toll road, so you know exactly what you are paying for.
I just ordered by EZ-Pass Flex so I could use this road, and also because I do travel occasionally on toll roads that have EZ-pass and I like the idea of skipping the toll booths.
I would note the 495 toll road is all Virginia. Maryland hasn’t done this yet. It would be useful if they could extend it over the bridge, but they will never build a whole new bridge for this.
You have to have ez-pass to use the road; no toll booths. Also, Virginia is charging a monthly fee to have an EZ-Pass, I don’t know if other states do this, but if they don’t, I guess you could buy an ez-pass from Maryland and use it in virginia.
The charge is 50 cents a month for ez-pass, and a dollar a month for ez-pass flex, which allows you free access if you have 3 people in your car. Also, if you use the ez-pass-flex at least once in a month, AND you ONLY use it HOV, they will waive the one dollar fee (that is a bone thrown to those who they promised would never have to pay if they were HOV users).
Since I will be using the toll road on December 31st, and again on January 1st (driving to/from Md for a new years party) I figure my 1st two months are covered. After that, I guess I’m stuck.
Which pisses me off, because even though I have a Prius, I specifically did NOT get the special plates which would give me free use of the HOV lanes (not these new toll lanes) because I didn’t want to pay the extra $15 a year.
And now if I don’t visit my parents occasionally with my wife and kids, I will pay $12 a year for the ez-pass.
Set your EZPass Flex to “HOV ON” and you don’t pay tolls, unless you are a frequent “HOV”er in their system and it flags you to a cop and he sees you driving alone. My question is, what happens if he stops you for “illegally” being HOV and not paying tolls but you flip the switch back before he gets to your car to see what the switch is set to? What would the court decide? Your word and his observation against the system? I have yet to pay a toll on those lanes but I use them infrequently. The thermal imaging and/or IR cameras (to get through most window treatments but not baby shades...) will not be in place to automatically verify HOV-3 anytime soon.
Virginia Ping! If you want on or off the Virginia Ping List, please freepmail me.
It hasn't improved.
The newly opened express lanes are in VA from where 95N/395 meet the Beltway to just before the River and heading into MD. And/Or from the VA side of the river to 95S/395.
Surrender to WHAT???
Have fun driving behind some old dude who should have surrendered his keys to his kids last year.
I have a MD E-Z Pass, and it has a $1.50 monthly maintenance fee, unless I have 3 or more toll transactions on MD facilities in a given month. I do get a 10 percent discount on MD tolls with the E-Z Pass, however.
The Beltway has turned into a cheap hostage situation.
“Pay the $2.75 or you cannot leave this section of road for 4 more hours.”
OK then, get the FBI to file racketeering and extortion charges against Fluor, Transurban and VDOT.
Of course, if Virginia raised the gas tax to account for inflation and increasing fuel economy, we could have had the four extra lanes for “free!”