Financing approval anticipated for I-95/395 express lanes

Interstate 95 is notorious for its congestion. (WTOP Photo/Colleen Kelleher)

Adam Tuss,

WASHINGTON – The express lanes being built on the Capital Beltway in Northern Virginia promise a speedy commute in exchange for paying a toll.

And, there are plans to put a similar network of lanes in place along 29 miles of Interstate 95/395. That project, which would run from Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to about Edsall Road in Fairfax County, is expected to clear another hurdle Wednesday.

The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board is expected to approve the financing plan put in place for the nearly $1 billion project.

The I-95/395 Express Lanes project, also known as High Occupancy Toll Lanes or HOT Lanes, would convert and expand the existing High Occupancy Vehicle facility along the roadway into the new lane network.

Three or more people in the car, and drivers can use the lanes for free. Fewer than three people in the car, and drivers can pay a toll to use the lanes which promise a speedy commute.

Fluor-Transurban, the same private company building the Express Lane project on the Beltway in Northern Virginia, will pay $843 million of the $940 million project. The Commonwealth will pay $97 million. Construction could start as early as the spring or summer of this year.

Tolls will rise and fall in the express lanes 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.

Transit advocates also are championing the lanes as a way to move buses quickly between different points since traffic flow is supposed to be predictable.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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