495 Express Lanes

Key facts

  • 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.


Dynamic tolling

  • 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.

On-road technology

  • 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.

Interface capabilities

  • 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.