All-electronic, high-occupancy toll lanes that operate on Virginia’s Capital Beltway (I-495), the major thoroughfare circling the city of Washington, D.C.
Two lanes extend both northbound and southbound for 14 miles / 22 kilometres, from the Springfield Interchange to just north of the Dulles Toll Road.
Vehicles carrying one or two people pay a toll to use the Express Lanes, while vehicles carrying three or more people travel toll-free.
An E-ZPass electronic tolling device is required of all vehicles using the Express Lanes, with a special device, the E-ZPass Flex, available for drivers who want to switch between toll-paying and toll-free mode for HOV-3 (High Occupancy Vehicles with three passengers or more).
Toll pricing is dynamic, varying according to real-time traffic conditions and adjusting to keep traffic free-flowing.
The 495 Express Lanes link to the 95 Express Lanes project currently under development.
The Express Lanes employ an innovative dynamic-pricing system algorithm that enables variable toll prices based on real-time traffic conditions to manage congestion and ensure free-flowing traffic.
Through the integration of the dynamic pricing system, the traffic management system receives traffic data, determines the toll rates and displays pricing on roadway dynamic message signs.
Travelers on the road see the signs and use the real-time information to make decisions about whether to use the Express Lanes.
Microwave traffic sensors are located approximately every one-third of a mile alongside the Express Lanes to collect real‐time traffic flow data, including volume and speed. This information is then sent to the Express Lanes Operations Centre.
Closed-circuit cameras and automatic incident-detection cameras along the corridor provide camera surveillance to quickly detect incidents and alert Operations Centre operators to notify Express Lanes-dedicated incident-response crews.
Express Lanes Operations Centre
The Express Lanes Operations Centre provides the hub for the infrastructure and personnel necessary to operate the Express Lanes 24/7/365.
The Operations Centre adjusts toll prices to manage traffic, monitors for roadway incidents and dispatches a response and interfaces with the Virginia Department of Transportation to enhance safety and the customer experience.
All-electronic toll collection
All vehicles using the Express Lanes must be fitted with an electronic tolling device called an E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex.
E-ZPass Flex, the first switchable transponder in the E-ZPass network, provides travelers with the flexibility to travel as toll-paying customers or High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) customers.
Toll gantries along the Express Lanes track a driver’s trip and charge one toll based on the trip traveled and real-time traffic conditions.
Fully-electronic tolling with no toll booths enables more than four times the number of vehicles per hour to pay a toll while traveling on the Express Lanes compared with a cash-based system, as there is no slowing down or stopping at a toll booth.
The Express Lanes Operations Centre interfaces directly with the Virginia Department of Transporta¬tion’s robust traffic management network and its E-ZPass Customer Service Centre and tolling back office system.
This interface is vital to keep traffic moving on the Capital Beltway and to deliver the highest customer service to Express Lanes and E-ZPass users.