Memorial Day holiday weekend traffic could cause Express Lanes tolls to spike for travelers

- Memorial Day travelers could be paying higher tolls to drive on the 495/95 Express Lanes this holiday weekend.

Transportation experts say Wednesday may be the best day to head out for Memorial Day weekend, but if you are unable to leave work a day before the busy travel time starts, you could face skyrocketing tolls. The demand drives the cost of these Express Lanes tolls, and this holiday weekend, more people are expected to travel than in the past decade.

“If you want to avoid the traffic, avoid the tolls at their peak and save a little bit money, try to avoid leaving between that Thursday and Friday between noon and 6 [p.m.],” said Mike McGurk, spokesperson for Transurban, the company that operates the Express Lanes. “Again, that is the busiest travel time. But we also encourage drivers to plan their trip before they get out on the road.”

But sticker shock isn't the only potential surprise facing holiday travelers.

“Beginning this Thursday and Friday, we are going to reverse to the southbound direction one hour earlier at 10 a.m. instead of 11 a.m.,” McGurk said. “Saturday, we will be going south until about 2 o’clock, reverse the lanes to go northbound and be open in the northbound direction by about 4 [p.m.]. We are going to keep going northbound into Sunday.”

The big change happens this Sunday morning. The Express Lanes will be closed from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. as Rolling Thunder travels to the District.

A reported 900,000 participants and spectators are involved in the annual motorcycle rally – a tribute to American war heroes.

Know before you go – that is the message this holiday weekend and the @VAExpressLanes Twitter account will be posting updates, including the new travel times and costs.

The 95 Express Lanes Memorial Day weekend reversal schedule:

Thursday, May 25: Southbound reversal begins one hour earlier at 10 a.m.
Friday, May 26: Southbound reversal begins at 10 a.m.
Saturday, May 27: Normal operations – Lanes reverse to northbound at 2 p.m.
Sunday, May 28: Northbound Lanes will close around 7:30 a.m. to support Rolling Thunder. The Rolling Thunder event will access the Lanes via Opitz Boulevard with the support of Express Assist crews.  he Lanes will re-open around 11 a.m. again in the northbound direction after the Rolling Thunder riders have exited from the I-395 HOV lanes to the Pentagon
Monday, May 29: Express Lanes remain northbound all day
Tuesday, May 30: Normal operations – southbound reversal begins around 10 a.m. with Lanes opening by about noon

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