In response to multiple accidents and driver confusion at the northbound entrance to the Express Lanes, the Virginia Department of Transportation implemented improved signage and lane markings overnight ahead of Tuesday morning's commute.
Crews added dotted lines heading north from the Springfield Interchange about a mile south of the current entrance to the Express Lanes, making it more clear to drivers that the two left lanes will become Express Lanes.
Solid lines that warn drivers heading north from the Springfield Interchange not to merge into the lanes were also extended 700 feet further south than they were originally.
“We want to remind all drivers to remain alert and aware of the new traffic patterns on the Capital Beltway,” said Tim Steinhilber, Transurban’s Express Lanes general manager, in a statement Monday. “Driver safety is our priority and we are working to make sure all drivers understand how to safely take advantage of the Express Lanes. We are currently looking to make enhancements where there has been driver confusion in the Springfield Interchange.”
Pavement will also be marked to better ensure drivers know they’ll need an E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex transponder to use the lanes. The highway will be marked “E-ZPass Only” about a mile and once more about a half-mile before the entrance to the lanes.
Before you drive the Express Lanes, VDOT and Transurban are strongly encouraging commuters to go to 495ExpressLanes.com to get an idea of how the lanes work.
What To Do if You Enter the Express Lanes By Accident
Do not swerve or change lanes suddenly in an effort to get back into the normal Beltway travel lanes if you find yourself entering the Express Lanes unintentionally — that's how most of the accidents have happened. Virginia State Police have also reported that commuters have actually stopped on the highway and backed up on to get out of the Express Lanes.
Drivers should never stop or back up on an interstate, state police note.
If you accidentally find yourself in the Express Lanes, then just keep going in the Express Lanes.
Take the first exit and then go to www.495ExpressLanes.com and pay the toll online. There will be a $1.50 administrative fee.
How has your experience on the Express Lanes been so far? Have you taken them? Was it worth the cost? Tell us in the comments below!