As the 95 Express Lanes near completion, the operators of the new high occupancy toll lanes are reminding drivers that there will be a significant change in the rules of the road when service begins next year.
All carpools that use the existing reversible HOV lanes on I-95 will need to get an E-ZPass Flex transponder to continue using the lanes, said Kevin Ginnerty, director of project delivery for Transurban. There will still be no charge for vehicles with three or more passengers, but drivers will need to have the transponder to use the lanes.
“The 95 Express Lanes will provide a faster, more predictable trip, but they also will bring a big change for drivers,” Ginnerty said.
In addition, Ginnerty said, the hybrid vehicles that are currently allowed to use the HOV lanes, no matter how many passengers are in the car, will be subjected to the same rules as other vehicles in the future.
Drivers without the minimum number of passengers can opt to pay a toll to use the Express Lanes. Toll rates vary depending on the number of drivers using the lanes at any given moment.
Construction on the 95 Express Lanes is about 80 percent complete, according to Susan Shaw, megaprojects director with the Virginia Department of Transportation.
The Express Lanes project is expanding capacity in the existing HOV lanes and extending the lanes south to Garrisonville Road in Stafford County. Work in the 30-mile corridor also included installing six new bridges, four flyover ramps and repairs to 15 bridges and ramps.
Construction is expected to wrap up by the end of this year, with the new toll lanes beginning service in early 2015.
In the meantime, drivers on the I-95 HOV and main lanes can continue to expect lane closures and delays during off-peak hours, said Walter Lewis, project director for Fluor-Lane 95.
Among other work that is yet to be completed, “we have 150 sign structures that need to get hoisted over the roadway,” Lewis said.
This will include some rolling 30-minute closures of the highway as signs are lifted across all the lanes, Lewis said.
“We try to make every effort to minimize impacts and keep traffic moving,” Shaw said.
For more information on construction-related closures and details about how the lanes will work, visit 95expresslanes.com