First day with I-66 tolls: Faster but costly

They say that time is money.

Well, you could save a lot of time traveling I-66 inside the Beltway using the new rush-hour toll lanes which opened Monday but it might have cost you a lot of cash. VDOT reports that the toll, which varies depending on traffic volume, ranged from from $4.50 at 5:36 a.m. to $34.50 at 8:36 a.m to travel the 9-mile stretch. (Toll prices are adjusted every six minutes).

The average speed was 57 miles per hour, compared with an average of 37 mph on this day last year. Average travel times were 10-12 minutes for the I-66 corridor during the morning rush hour, compared with a range of 15 to 25 minutes during a typical Monday morning period.

During the morning rush-hour, 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. VDOT says about 11,000 vehicles passed through the Dulles Connector Road merge to the eastbound 66 Express Lanes, which is the most heavily traveled point on the lanes. Here are more statistics from the transportation folks:

E-ZPass
About 86% of users traveled with E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex. The remaining 14% were likely traveling without a transponder (this figure also include motorcycles, which do not need a transponder to use the lanes).

High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV-2+)
About 37% of vehicles traveled as carpools and rode for free (using E-Z Pass Flex set to HOV—this also includes buses) over the four-hour period.

Arterial Routes
Signals and engineering staff monitored parallel arterial routes such as George Washington Parkway, Routes 7, 29, 50, 123 and 193. On average, traffic volumes, speeds, and travel times remained similar when compared with figures from last year at this time.

If You Traveled Without a Transponder
Drivers who missed a toll or traveled without a transponder can visit 66expresslanes.org and select “Missed a Toll,” and enter their license plate. The transaction will show within three days of travel, and can be paid within six days of travel to avoid receiving a violation notice.

VDOT will mail a violation notice on the seventh day to drivers who traveled without a transponder. At any time, drivers can call the E-ZPass Customer Service Center at 1-877-762-7824 for help from call-takers.

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About the Author

Ed Tobias

Ed Tobias brings more than four decades of reporting and news management experience to his work at FairfaxNews. Tobias managed news coverage for Associated Press Radio for over twenty years.  This included coverage of the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, the death of Princess Diana, the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters and national election primaries, conventions and campaigns.  He was part of the team that built AP’s on-line video operation. Prior to joining AP, Tobias was News Director at all-news WTOP in Washington, D.C.
He has won two Ohio State Awards for his reporting and producing and he led coverage that won an Edward R. Murrow Award.