Skip to comments.I-66 tolls, longer HOV hours not slowing alternative routes, data show
Posted on 03/05/2018 6:39:48 AM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
FAIRFAX, Va. Both Interstate 66 tolls for solo drivers and expanded HOV hours have not slowed traffic on most major parallel routes during the morning rush hour, Virginia transportation officials said Tuesday.
A new analysis which found the average daily toll paid in January was $12.37 also showed that even an increased number of cars on some roads like U.S. Route 50 did not significantly change travel times in January, compared with the same time a year earlier.
“What we’re still seeing is the project is working as intended,” said Nick Donohue, Virginias deputy transportation secretary.
The Virginia Department of Transportation will continue to analyze whether changing the tolling algorithm is warranted, though that could lower toll prices by lowering the minimum target speed at certain times, Donohue said. Other possibilities to improve drivers options could be speeding up construction of park and rides.
Speeds on parallel routes, such as U.S. 50, U.S. Route 29 and Virginia Route 7, are largely unchanged from a year ago, Transportation Secretary Shannon Valentine said. The southbound George Washington Parkway in the morning rush hour saw a slight but significant increase in delays in January. In the afternoon, however, northbound speeds improved.
The average speed on Interstate 66 over the entire four-hour period each way now covered by HOV or toll rules is now about 10 miles an hour faster than it was in January of last year.
“When you see a toll that’s $40 or $44, what it’s really telling you is don’t get on, because it means the road is getting congested, this is not where you want to go, and so one of our major concerns was really looking at the arteries along 66 and were they going to be impacted, and they’re moving,” Valentine said.
“Rides [on I-66] that were taking 2530 minutes are now taking 1012,” Valentine added.
In an attempt to get that message out, VDOT has posted travel time information on overhead signs near the Vienna Metro station that indicate how long it would take to drive in on U.S. 50.
For drivers from northern Fairfax or Loudoun County, Donohue said, the trip on the George Washington Parkway at 6 a.m. takes largely the same amount of time as the ride on I-66 at that time before tolling began because the highway would become clogged with drivers trying to get to work before the HOV restrictions began at 6:30 a.m.
“There are other alternatives in that earlier period that people can use that provide a substantially similar trip as 66 did before it was tolled,” Donohue said.
Donohue justified the expanded tolling hours as a way to prevent I-66 from getting so backed up it could not recover. The average eastbound toll in the extended HOV hours (5:30-6:30 a.m.) is $2.95, he said.
Around 13,000 drivers are using the road eastbound each morning, and more than 15,000 drivers are using the road westbound each afternoon. Forty-three percent of the trips were vehicles with an E-ZPass Flex switched to HOV mode to indicate that they have at least one other person in the car. Forty-four percent of drivers paid the toll with an E-ZPass.
Thirteen percent of drivers did not have an E-ZPass, so they received toll violation notices in the mail.
The average morning toll paid in January was $8.07, while the average afternoon toll paid was $4.30. When analyzing only those drivers who paid to use the entire corridor from the Beltway to Rosslyn each way, the average round trip price was $18.06.
In January, 461 drivers paid $40 or more.
Virginia does not yet have hard data on the precise number of people moving through the corridor today as compared with a year ago, but Donohue believes the number is likely up, and at higher speeds.
A number of slug lines have been set up to increase carpooling, and new I-66 slugging spots will be set up at the Pentagon as part of parking lot changes tied to a toll lane conversion on I-395.
An increase in carpooling could become even more important with construction ramping up next month on new I-66 toll lanes between the Beltway and Gainesville.
Donohue did not dismiss out of hand a House of Delegates budget amendment that would require the state to implement the rush-hour tolls in both directions by 2020. Those tolls and brand-new HOV requirements were included in the original plans for the project a few years ago, before being cut over public complaints.
“I can speak to sitting in a lot of traffic eastbound on I-66 in the evenings there, so there is certainly a traffic need that could be addressed with this, but we are still evaluating any of these proposals,” Donohue said.
The administration only saw the budget amendment when it emerged from the House Appropriations Committee Sunday.
Valentine warned that any specific changes, rather than suggested reviews, mandated by lawmakers could make further tolling adjustments difficult if there are unintended consequences.
It’ll change your life. :)
Oh but the 495 paid lanes were going to fix everything. Without more bridges, nothing will fix the problem.
Sure is. VA Dems increased tax revenue while providing ZERO solutions to a problem.
Privatize all interstates
use the money to eliminate the national debt
eliminate the federal gas tax
with no national debt we can fully fund social security without raising taxes
No, I live here. WE NEED MORE BRIDGES. It will fix the problem. We don’t need that to fix this problem.
Park and rides. The ones I drive by are, at most, 30% full.
The Left so loves pushing Mass Transit on us, and making it as hard as possible to drive by yourself. . .
How about “The effing taxpayers already pay for the roads via their tax bills”. WTH right does Virginia or any other state have double taxing a federal road, dammit?!
$40 tolls?! Good Lord. And I thought the $4.25 toll for single drivers to use the HOV lane here in Houston was highway robbery.
F’em...Glad I retired just before the EZ pass went into effect. Its all about Gov control and run by the northerners who have moved in and screwed up northern Va.
A number of big toll roads have been privatized for 75 or 99 year terms, with private companies setting and collecting tolls and responsible for the maintenance.
Road use taxes and gas taxes were not lowered though, despite the transfer of responsibility to private hands.
“In 2006, Mayor Daley leased out the Chicago Skyway for 99 years for $1.8 billion.”
‘On June 29, 2006, in what may serve as a “test case” for the privatization of other major highways in the United States, the state of Indiana received $3.8 billion from a foreign consortium made up of the Spanish construction firm Cintra and the Australian Macquarie Infrastructure Group, and in exchange the state ceded operation of the 157-mile (253 km) Indiana Toll Road for the next 75 years to these outside corporations. The consortium will collect all the tolls.”
Glad I dont live in that area anymore.
Do you really think that the entire interstate system will net the government $21 trillion dollars?
So, according to this statistic we are draining the swamp at the rate of 2,000 per day. That is over 1/2 million per year. A couple of years and it will be back to pre 9/11 levels [when the Bush Cheney crony capitalism lead to rapid inflation of the idiocracy in DC]. Keep up the good work.
Exactly. Toll roads might be nice in theory—you pay for what you use—but in practice it is just another government racket.
I remember when they were planning the I-540 outer beltline in Raleigh. It was going to be a desparately-needed route for commutes between North Raleigh and the southern Wake County suburbs and Research Triangle Park.
As soon as the northern part was built and the North Raleigh residents got their free route, they decided that the southern Wake County residents who had dutifully been paying their taxes could only have their part built if it was a toll road.
And that part of the road is N.C. 540, because you cannot give a toll road an interstate designation without federal permission.
The real problem is there are only 2 lanes each way on I-66 in Arlington County.
Back approx. 1960 when the highway was being built, Arlington refused to allow 6 lanes on I-66, which is why the overall highway footprint doesn’t change at the Fairfax line but the lanes go from 3 to 2 each way. When I learned about this, the only thing that astonished me was that Arlington County has been stupid for longer than I thought.
Meanwhile, I’m all for the Hotlanes — saved my butt when I was late for a meeting out at Tysons one Friday afternoon: was very worth the fee.
That said, HOV lanes suck. Change ‘em all to tolls and be done with the special privileges for hybrids and extra passengers.
I am very suspect of them claiming that these tolls have not overloaded other streets that people are using as alternatives.