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Carpool lanes to expand in parts of Virginia

Thursday - 1/19/2012, 5:00am  ET

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Fourteen miles of expresslanes are under construction on I-495 between the Dulles Toll Road and the Springfield Interchange. (WTOP Photo)

Adam Tuss, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - There may never be a better time to put a carpool group together than right now.

As the Beltway Express lanes project comes online in Northern Virginia, a new seamless high occupancy vehicle network of roads is about to be connected.

"We'll have express lanes connecting that 95, 395, 495 area in Springfield with I-66 and the Dulles Toll Road," says Virginia Department of Transportation Communications Director Steve Titunik.

"For the first time, it will incentivize folks to get into a carpool or vanpool."

The express lanes on the Capital Beltway will be free to use if carpoolers have three or more people in the car. Those lanes, also known as High Occupancy Toll lanes or HOT lanes, are expected to be completed and open late this year.

If enough people start taking advantage of the quick commute those express lanes promise, Titunick says other drivers will benefit.

"What it'll do is create a better experience on the general purpose lanes," he says.

"People will notice even if they never want to pay a toll, get into a carpool, or ride a bus because the new capacity on the express lanes will take a lot of those other folks off."

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)