There are big changes coming for drivers who travel along Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway. Beginning Monday, solo drivers traveling between I-495 and Route 29 in Rosslyn will have to pay a toll, and everyone will need an E-ZPass.
The Virginia Department of Transportation's High-Occupancy Toll Lanes (HOT) Express Lanes take effect on Monday, December 4 across a nine-mile stretch running from I-495 to Route 29 in Rosslyn. The biggest change is that people who are traveling alone can now use the HOT lanes—but they have to pay.
Until now, solo drivers have not been allowed to enter the HOT lanes during peak travel periods, as those lanes were for carpools only.
Here's what you need to know about Monday's changes:
Who will pay
Starting Monday, solo drivers will be permitted to use the I-66 HOT lanes during rush hour, but you will be charged a toll—and you WILL need an E-ZPass to use the lanes. Those who carpool, busses and motorcyclists can use the lanes for free.
The Express Lanes will be in effect Monday through Friday from 5:30-9:30 a.m. in the eastbound direction, and from 3-7 p.m. in the westbound direction.
Outside of these times, the lanes will be free for everyone.
How much will the tolls cost?
Tools will vary depending on how congested the roads are. Signs posted along the road will update with current tolls.
VDOT says they're releasing a mobile app this weekend that will allow drivers to plan their trips before they leave, with updated information about current tolls posted in real-time.
You must have an E-ZPass
There are a few exceptions, but EVERY VEHICLE needs an E-ZPass to enter the Express Lanes during rush hour. There are two types of passes:
Standard E-ZPass: Every solo driver needs this device to pay an electronic toll
E-ZPass Flex: Cars with two or more people need this version of the E-ZPass, which allows them to switch to HOV mode, to enter the Express Lanes without being charged.
E-ZPasses can be purchased at AAA locations around the area, some Giant and Wegmans locations, at Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles locations and on their website, where you can find complete details.
VDOT is also holding all-day events this weekend where drivers can purchase an E-ZPass. Those events will take place from 10 a.m. to midnight on Saturday and Sunday at the VDOT office located at 4975 Alliance Drive in Fairfax.