The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has posted user stats for the first day of the I-66 “inside the Beltway” toll lanes, and this morning the tolls hit a new high of $40.
Learn more about the toll lanes here.
The HOV lane from I-495 to Route 29 was converted to the HOV/toll lane hybrid, and operates going eastbound toward Washington, D.C. from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. While single occupants have to pay a variable toll based on traffic information updated every six minutes, HOV users were able to use the lanes for free.
VDOT removed the toll and HOV exemption for Dulles International Airport users and hybrid vehicles with the special clean fuel license plate, but the lanes are open to all drivers during off-peak periods.
According to VDOT, “11,000 vehicles passed through the Dulles Connector Road merge to the eastbound 66 Express Lanes, which is the most heavily traveled point on the lanes.”
But while traffic was flowing through the lanes, many drivers were concerned by the high toll costs, which topped out yesterday at $34.50, and then rose again to $40 this morning.
So far the tolls for these “inside the Beltway” lanes are the highest for a roadway in the United States.
More stats on the first day with the toll lanes, from VDOT:
About 86% of users traveled with E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex. The remaining 14% were likely traveling without a transponder (this figure also include motorcycles, which do not need a transponder to use the lanes).
High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV-2+)
About 37% of vehicles travelled as carpools and rode for free (using E-Z Pass Flex set to HOV—this also includes buses) over the four-hour period.
Average Speeds and Travel Times
Average speeds on this segment of I-66 were 57 miles per hour, compared with an average of 37 mph at last year this time.
Average travel times were 10-12 minutes for the I-66 corridor during the morning rush hour, compared with a range of 15 to 25 minutes during a typical Monday morning period.
Signals and engineering staff monitored parallel arterial routes such as George Washington Parkway, Routes 7, 29, 50, 123 and 193. On average, traffic volumes, speeds, and travel times remained similar when compared with figures from last year at this time.
Prices for a trip along the entire nine-mile corridor ranged from $4.50 at 5:36 a.m. to $34.50 at 8:36 a.m. Each price remained for six minutes (toll prices are updated every six minutes).
As traffic volumes climb, the system responds by raising the toll price to help manage the number of vehicles getting on the roadway, to keep the traffic flowing freely. The price is an indication that the system is becoming fuller and fuller.
If You Traveled Without a Transponder
Drivers who missed a toll or traveled without a transponder can visit 66expresslanes.org and select “Missed a Toll,” and enter their license plate. The transaction will show within three days of travel, and can be paid within six days of travel to avoid receiving a violation notice.
VDOT will mail a violation notice on the seventh day to drivers who traveled without a transponder.