Device Lets Drivers Use Toll Lanes for Free
August 1, 2012 11:26 am - Potomac Local News
A new tool will allow drivers to access new toll lanes on the Capital Beltway without being charged.
The Virginia Department of Transportation announced the launch of EZ-Pass Flex, a new transponder that gives drivers the ability to switch between toll-free and toll-paying travel on the 495 Express lanes, which will open later this year.
Commonly known as High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes, the project, when complete, will give drivers 14 miles of new lanes from the Springfield Interchange to just north of the Dulles Toll Road. Every vehicle in the lanes will need an EZ-Pass transponder.
“When it comes to reaching important destinations in Virginia, travelers now have choices,” said VDOT Chief Deputy Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick. “Travelers can take the bus or Metro, drivers can take the 495 Express Lanes or Capital Beltway general purpose lanes, and with the flip of a switch on the E-ZPass Flex and two passengers, choose to carpool toll-free on the Capital Beltway.”
The E-ZPass transponder eliminates the need for toll booths or cash, as the project is designed to make the lanes an all-electronic tolling facility.
Drivers who already have a standard E-ZPass transponder will be able to access the lanes, however, only the E-ZPass Flex transponder offers users the option to choose between a toll-paying mode as a driver, or High Occupancy Vehicle mode (three or more occupants in the car).
By switching to the HOV mode, carpoolers will have the option to access the 495 Express Lanes without paying the toll. Commuter and transit buses will also be able to use the lanes for free.
Also coming soon, the Dulles Metrorail is expected to open in 2013, with new stations in Tyson’s Corner.
The opening of the Express Lanes will be the first time Capital Beltway travelers and public transportation will have the opportunity to use carpool lanes along Interstate 495.
Currently, the HOV-3 lanes on Interstate 95 run just north of the Montclair/Dumfries exits, through the Springfield Interchange and along Interstate 395 to the 14th Street Bridge.
In addition, there are HOV-2 lanes on Interstate 66, located both inside and outside the Beltway.
Drivers can visit 495expresslanes.com to learn how to obtain an EZ-Pass Flex transponder.