Drivers will have to pay to use 95 Express Lanes’ HOV lanes

WASHINGTON — Drivers riding solo won’t always be able to use Interstate 95’s High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes during off-peak hours like they do now.

When the 95 Express Lanes open in Northern Virginia in early 2015, every vehicle using the HOV lanes 24 hours a day, seven days a week will need an E-ZPass or E-Z pass Flex to use them lawfully.

Tolls charged and collected using E-ZPass will vary depending on traffic congestion. The E-ZPass Flex transponder allows cars with three or more occupants to use the I-95 Express Lanes and not be charged.

“The Express Lanes still will be reversible like the I-95 HOV lanes today,” says Mike McGurk, spokesman for Transurban, the company that will operate the 95 Express Lanes.

McGurk encourages drivers using the I-95 corridor who are new to E-Zpass to get one.

In Virginia, the E-ZPass’ $35 purchase price goes into users accounts as pre-paid toll credits. E-ZPass has a service charge of 50 cents a month in Virginia. The service charge for E-ZPass Flex is $1 a month.

“There will be some new entry and exit points when the project opens,” says McGurk, who recommends drivers take steps to learn what’s coming and plan for changes now.

The 95 Express Lanes will begin at Garrisonville Road in Stafford County and include a portion of I-395 between the Capital Beltway and roughly Edsall Road in Fairfax County.

Cars choosing to use HOV lanes between Edsall Road and D.C. will be subject to current HOV rules that apply to carpoolers, transit and motorcycles during peak hours.

Arlington County fought the Express Lane project in court, according to The Washington Post. The project’s original plan to extend from Stafford County to D.C. was modified.

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