Speed limit going up on 495 Express Lanes


Drivers had some initial headaches adjusting to the 495 Express Lanes. (Robert Thomson/The Washington Post)

Drivers who decide to shell out for a trip on the 495 Express Lanes are supposed to be paying for a less-congested commute. Now that money will also buy them a faster trip.

The speed limit on these lanes will increase to 65 mph from 55 mph on or around June 24.

“The 495 Express Lanes are helping to alleviate traffic congestion along one of the most congested roadways in the Commonwealth,” Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) said in a statement announcing the news. “The new speed limit increase will help Northern Virginia Beltway drivers save even more time on their commute.”

While this speed limit will go up to 65 mph, the Beltway speed limit will still be 55 mph, which could lead to uncertain drivers not sure which signs to obey. In pitching the higher speed limit as a way to shorten commutes, McDonnell is clearly hoping it will draw more drivers to the Express Lanes.

The lanes confused drivers when they first opened last November, but daily use did increase during the early months of this year. These lanes use dynamic pricing, which means the toll changes depending on how much traffic is on the road.

New signs showing the speed increase should be posted by June 24, though that depends on the weather.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He anchors Post Nation, a destination for breaking news, developing stories and quick analysis of events around the country.
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Mark Berman | June 7, 2013