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Saturday, January 12, 2013

More drivers using beltway toll lanes

The view from the Gallows Road overpass.
Traffic on the beltway express lanes has been steadily increasing since the toll system opened Nov. 17, reports Transurban, the company that built the beltway project in return for retaining the toll revenue.

During the first week the tolls took effect, with dynamic pricing tied to traffic conditions, the daily average toll revenue was $12,212 based on an average of 15,201 daily trips. By the week of Dec. 16, toll revenue was $25,317 a day, based on 23,903 daily trips.

The average toll paid by drivers on the express lanes was $1.07, according to Transurban. The company adjusts the toll amount to keep traffic moving. Driving the entire 14-mile length of the express lanes ranged from $1.65 to $3.70. Transurban expects both usage and pricing will “increase progressively over time.

About 7 percent of express-lane users are high-occupancy vehicles (with three or more people) or exempt vehicles, like motorcycles and buses.

Transurban acknowledges there was confusion among drivers when the express lanes first opened, leading to several accidents. The company and VDOT took steps to improve signage and road markings. Still, it’s easy to enter the express lanes by mistake. If you accidentally get on the toll lanes without an E-ZPass, you can pay online within five days. If you don’t, you’ll get an invoice in the mail with a missed-toll fee of about $12 plus the toll.

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