WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Traffic On 495 Express Lanes Increasing

Play associated audio
The 495 Express Lanes utilize dynamic pricing, based on the congestion on the road at any given time.
Martin Di Caro
The 495 Express Lanes utilize dynamic pricing, based on the congestion on the road at any given time.

Traffic is picking up on the 495 Express Lanes in northern Virginia, according to records released by the private sector operators of the new toll lanes on the Capital Beltway.

The company that built the Express Lanes, Transurban, was struggling to convince motorists to pay a toll for a congestion-free ride, so they opened their new road, which lies right next to the non-tolled lanes, to all traffic last weekend so drivers could try it free.

Normally it's E-ZPass only to take the Express Lanes, and Transurban's most recent quarterly report says 46 percent of Beltway travelers don't have E-ZPass. That would include Keyshawn Blunt, gassing up in Tysons Corner just off the Beltway, who says that is the main reason he hasn't tried the road.

"I don't want to go through the hassle of obtaining an E-ZPass, but I also would like the convenience if there was a time I did need to use it in an emergency," he says. "I could just hop on and not worry."

If Transurban's figures are accurate, nearly half its potential customers currently don't use their new road, but commuter Tom Eaton says he has his own reasons for not using the Express Lanes more often.

"It all ends up at the same congested point at the end if you are headed from Virginia to Maryland, so you end up at the same stopping point," says Eaton.

He's talking about the brutal bottleneck on the approach to the American Legion Bridge, which happens north of the Express Lanes' end point.

Still, average daily traffic on the toll lanes is up 13 percent this quarter to 2,100 trips, and toll revenue is up by nearly 50 percent.


Snoopy, Garfield And Friends Go Bald For Kids With Cancer

Kids don't want to look different, especially if the reason they look different is because they've lost their hair to chemotherapy. If Hello Kitty's gone bald, too, maybe it won't feel so bad.

Obama Gets A Taste Of Jiro's 'Dream' Sushi In Name Of Diplomacy

On the first leg of his Asian tour, the president stopped by the iconic sushi restaurant. David Gelb, who directed a documentary about the restaurant, says eating there is amazing and nerve-wracking.

Obama: Japan's Administration Of Disputed Islands Shouldn't Change

A standoff over sovereignty of the Senkakus, also claimed by China — which calls the chain Diaoyu — has been a source of deep tension between the two countries in recent years.

FCC Set To Change Net Neutrality Rules

On Thursday, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission will propose new rules for how broadband providers should treat the Internet traffic flowing through their networks.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.