Beltway near Express Lanes more clearly marked

WASHINGTON – Drivers will see Interstate 495 in Virginia more clearly marked after the opening of the new 495 Express Lanes confused some motorists.

The changes put in place Monday night are aimed at reducing Capital Beltway crashes near Braddock Road, the southern entrance to the toll lanes that opened on Saturday.

That entrance should be more obvious to drivers, although some could still be seen merging late to avoid the toll lanes Tuesday morning.

Overhead programmable message boards now say, “Two Left Lanes: Express Lanes Only.” Or they might read, “Use Caution” or “New Traffic Pattern.”

The merge area also has been extended.

In the 1 1/2 miles of the Inner Loop approaching the Braddock Road entrance, there’s new lane striping to let drivers know the toll lanes are ahead.

Dotted lane stripes begin sooner before the Braddock Road Express Lanes entrance, according to Transurban, the operator of the lanes. Where the main lanes and the toll lanes split, the first poles that separate the lanes are marked with orange and black stripes.

Heading north from Springfield, dotted lane stripes start nearly a mile south of the current Express Lanes entrance to more clearly show that the two left lanes will soon turn into Express Lanes.

Where traffic from Springfield comes onto the Inner Loop, the ramp lanes and Beltway lanes are dramatically separated with double-solid lane striping.

There also are plans to paint the left-side pavement before the split with the phrase “E-ZPass Only.”

The changes come after at least a half-dozen crashes.

Virginia State Police Sgt. Kerry Allander told WTOP that drivers trying to avoid the toll lanes ended up swerving or suddenly changing lanes. Several lost control and struck either each other or the Jersey wall.

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WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this story. Follow @KingWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)