Driving the 95 Express Lanes in 95 seconds (Video)

WASHINGTON — Do you have an E-ZPass? The 95 Express Lanes are open for business.

I took a test drive on the southbound lanes Wednesday afternoon, successfully dodging delays in the main lanes through Lorton, Woodbridge, Dumfries and Quantico. The 29-mile trip cost $8.60.

Gauging the total cost of using the Express Lanes takes some getting used to. The electronic signs show prices for travel on separate segments of the 29-mile facility. A driver who intends to use the full length needs to do some math to figure out the final cost.

On this particular southbound trip, the toll rates were around $3 for all three portions (from the entrance on I-395 to Newington, Newington to Dale City and Dale City to the southern end in Garrisonville). On a northbound trip, there are only two segments — Garrisonville to Newington and Newington to I-395. Knowing where these segments begin and end and where your destination is relative to those points is crucial if you want to know exactly how much you’re going to be charged.

The price to use the lanes varies and is based on demand. By 4 p.m. on Monday, the estimated peak cost for the drive southbound on express lanes from Duke Street to Garrisonville Road surged to more than $20. An accident in the main lanes in Quantico briefly boosted the cost to more than $13 late Tuesday afternoon.

The effectiveness of the lanes’ ability to manage the traffic flow will undoubtedly be put to the test in the coming weeks, as more routine rush-hour volumes reemerge.

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