ALEXANDRIA, Va. - With the new Express Lanes on Interstate 495 opening this year, Northern Virginia drivers are being urged to get their E-ZPass transponders now - before their commutes change dramatically.
"This is the biggest traffic shift in this region since I-66 opened 30 years ago," says Jennifer Aument, vice president of Transurban, the company building the lanes.
No exact date has been set for the opening of the Express Lanes, but Aument says it will happen before the new year. Drivers will be given three weeks advance notice before the lanes open.
Drivers should expect to pay $3 to $6 in rush hour, depending on how much traffic is in the lane and how far drivers travel. The new lanes go from the Springfield Interchange to just shy of of the American Legion Bridge in Tysons Corner.
All tolls will be paid with an E- ZPass transponder attached to a car's windshield.
Carpools of three people or more will still be free, with an E-ZPass Flex transponder. The Flex transponder has a switch that allows drivers to toggle between High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) mode of three or more people to non-HOV mode of fewer than three people.
Motorcycles also travel for free.
Some confusion is expected as the lanes open. Commuters are being encouraged to read the specifics of how their commutes will change on the 495 Express Lanes website.
Transurban also is the company constructing the I-95 Express Lanes that will run from Stafford County to Edsall Road and will connect to the I-495 Express Lanes. The I-95 portion is under construction, but will not be finished until 2014.
(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)