What drivers are saying about the new I-395 Express Lanes

I-395 aerial view of traffic
Traffic is seen along Interstate 395 in Arlington County on Nov. 18, 2019. (WTOP/Hillary Howard)

New toll lanes opened up in Northern Virginia on Monday, marking a major change for drivers who regularly use Interstate 395.

The 395 Express Lanes are three lanes in the middle of I-395, stretching from near Edsall Road in Fairfax County to the 14th Street Bridge in the District.

They replaced lanes that used to be HOV lanes.

“I’m going to give it a try,” said commuter Nia Leigh. “Sometimes Express Lanes don’t really help with traffic because we’re all just on a different road.”

Leigh said she hopes the lanes will help with traffic backups in the Pentagon City area.

“I’m interested to see how everybody can do their commute without all that congestion in one spot,” she said.

Leigh already had an E-ZPass before the new lanes opened.

All drivers using the 395 Express Lanes are required to have an E-ZPass of some kind. Those who use the lanes without an E-ZPass will get a bill in the mail.

I-395 toll lane FAQ: What to know about the new Express Lanes

Vehicles with at least three people in them can ride free with an E-ZPass Flex, but all others must pay to use the lanes.

“I have the Flex pass,” said Richard Monroe, a commuter who believes the new lanes will help with congestion.

“I think it’ll be very effective,” Monroe said. “Anything to open up more lanes.”

Commuter Sammy Emara said he believes the new lanes will help move traffic along, but he does not have an E-ZPass and does not plan to get one. He wants to stick with the regular, free travel lanes.

“We pay a lot of money as it is for a lot of things on the highway,” Emara said. “The other lanes are working for me. I’m not going to pay for the other line if I’m not going to use it.”

The toll lanes will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are reversible, heading north in the morning and south in the afternoon.

Transurban, the company that operates the lanes, expects the average toll to be around $8. The highest prices are expected to be between $20 and $30.

Toll prices can change as frequently as every 10 minutes based on traffic volume.

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