WASHINGTON - If Interstate 66 is part of your daily commute, you may be wondering if your wallet is getting hit by the newly installed E-ZPass system inside the Beltway. Lights have been seen flashing as drivers cruise by the overhead E-ZPass readers despite the tolls not going live for another few months.
According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, it is experimenting with its new toll gantries - nine of them between the Beltway and Rosslyn until December.
The flashing light at the gantries are being used to indicate when vehicles have activated their E-ZPass and will let law enforcement know if that car should have two or more people inside of it. If it doesn't, the vehicle can then be pursued and ticketed.
The tolls will go into effect in early December and will allow you to use the HOV lanes for a fee if you are in your car alone. The amount of the tolls will rise and fall depending on traffic at the time.
The toll lanes will go into effect from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. eastbound on I-66 and then from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on I-66 westbound.
It will no longer be a free ride if you have a hybrid car.
This is part of an overall expansion as VDOT and Northern Virginia transportation officials widen and add hot lanes to I-66 all the way out to Gainesville. It is aiming to ease congestion and allow for people who are in a car alone to use these HOV lanes. Currently, drivers are restricted from using them inside the Beltway during the morning and afternoon rush hour commutes.