Adam Tuss, wtop.com
WASHINGTON -- Day after day, drivers on the Virginia side of the Capital Beltway weave in and out of work zones for one of the largest road projects in the area. And now, the 14-mile High Occupancy Toll Lanes Project is about three quarters of the way completed.
From Springfield to just north of the Dulles Toll Road, two new lanes are being added in each direction to the Beltway. The inside lanes of the inner and outer loops in that area will eventually become the HOT lanes.
The estimated opening date for the project now stands at December 2012, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.
When the lanes open, drivers will be able to use them if they pay a toll or if they have three or more people in their vehicle. Tolls will rise and fall based upon how many drivers are in the lanes. The more people that use the lanes, the higher the tolls.
The idea is that people will be priced out of the lanes at some point, and traffic will be able to continue moving.
Tolls will be collected using an E-ZPass-like device that will allow traffic to keep flowing. The operator of the lanes, Fluor-Transurban, has promised a minimum speed of 45 miles per hour at all times.
Transit advocates also are championing the lanes as a way to move buses quickly between different points on the Beltway since traffic flow is supposed to be predictable.
VDOT says nearly 80 percent of the sound walls required for the project have been put in place. Lane shifts along the corridor are expected to continue throughout the rest of the year.
(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
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