FAIRFAX, VA — With express lanes opening this Monday on I-66 Inside the Beltway, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has a new website, 66ExpressLanes.org, to educate travelers about how tolling will work, the necessity of getting an E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex, and other changes coming to the highway. The express lanes, which will be in effect Monday through Friday, 5:30-9:30 a.m. eastbound, and 3:00-7:00 p.m. westbound, are designed to offer new travel choices that move people on I-66 with greater speed and reliability.
This new website provides comprehensive information to prepare commuters for the opening of the Express Lanes, including:
- How the dynamically-tolled I-66 Inside the Beltway Express Lanes will operate;
- Who is subject to the toll by explaining the difference between a free and tolled trip. Solo drivers will be able to use the highway during rush hour for the first time since it opened in 1982 by paying a toll, while carpoolers, transit riders, motorcyclists, and emergency and law enforcement vehicles performing their duties will experience toll-free trips. The elimination of exemptions for special user groups such as clean-fuel vehicles and Dulles International Airport-bound vehicles, to treat all I-66 users equally;
- What type of transponder to choose by making a distinction between E-ZPass (which enables solo drivers to pay a toll to access the rush-hour Express Lanes) and E-ZPass Flex (which enables vehicles with two or more occupants to travel toll-free);
- Where to get an E-ZPass/E-ZPass Flex, including AAA Mid-Atlantic locations, select Wegmans and Giant grocery stores, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles centers, and online;
- When are the new HOV/tolling hours? In the morning driving eastbound between 5:30 and 9:30 a.m. and in the evening heading westbound between 3:00 and 7:00 p.m.; and
How much will it cost? A toll calculator that will display current toll rate estimates, which will be activated when the Express Lanes open.
“We are excited to roll out our new website to help the public get ready for Toll-Day 1,” said Amanda Baxter, Special Projects manager for VDOT. “Our site offers one stop shopping for everything you need to know about the Express Lanes on I-66 Inside the Beltway and other changes to the rules of the road.”
In addition to 66ExpressLanes.org, VDOT will roll out a multi-faceted education program this fall that will include media events, news stories, advertisements, briefings and other strategies to prepare travelers to use the express lanes in ways that best suit their individual needs.
The I-66 Express Lanes Inside the Beltway will open as HOV-2, but will switch to HOV-3 when the I-66 Outside the Beltway Express Lanes open in mid-2022, matching the current HOV rules on I-495 and I-95 Express lanes.
After covering the cost of maintaining and operating the facility, remaining toll revenues from the I-66 Inside the Beltway Express Lanes will be invested in transportation alternatives that improve mobility and benefit travelers using I-66 Inside the Beltway will be administered by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.