Dr. Gridlock’s traffic, transit tips: How to figure out Beltway express lane tolls


Southbound I495 with the new hot lanes on the left. (Dayna Smith/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)
December 22, 2012
Express lanes tolls

During my online chat Monday and, later, on the Dr. Gridlock blog, we discussed the additional information commuters would like to have in deciding whether to use the new 495 Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway. Among other things, drivers say, they need more information on the variable tolls.

The message boards at the access points show tolls to only three destinations along the 14 miles of express lanes. One driver was trying to get an idea of what the toll would be from the outer loop entry point at Springfield to Route 7 in Tysons. The message board usually shows the tolls to Interstate 66, Westpark Drive and the northern exit for the express lanes.

When you’re on the go, you’d know only that the toll to Route 7 is going to be some amount between the tolls to I-66 and Westpark, because Route 7 is the exit between.

But Pierce Coffee, an executive with Transurban, the express lanes operator, pointed out another option.

On the express lanes Web site, www.495expresslanes.com, go to the menu called “your travel options” and click on “plan your trip.” Type in your origin point and destination. The results will show a map, plus the “current estimated trip price” and an estimate of how many minutes you would be driving in the express lanes.

More bridge work

After the morning rush Wednesday, the District plans to reduce the local span of the 11th Street Bridge to one inbound and outbound lane to complete work on the bridge deck.

The lane reduction will remain until mid-January. When the work is done, the bridge will reopen with two lanes in each direction. The project will create a 16-foot-wide pedestrian and bike path that connects with the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail.

Metro maintenance

We’re in the midst of the holiday break from Metro’s weekend track work program. This weekend and next, the only work scheduled is on the Green Line. Trains will share a track between Greenbelt and College Park from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. each weekend day.

The weekend maintenance program is set to resume Jan. 4-6. The biggest disruption in January is likely to be the one set for the last weekend of the month, Jan. 26-27. Buses will replace Red Line trains through downtown Washington between Dupont Circle and Rhode Island Avenue.

holiday service

Metro plans regular weekday service for Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, Metrobus and Metrorail will operate on a Sunday schedule.

On New Year’s Eve, Metrorail and Metrobus will operate regular weekday service, but the rail system will stay open two hours later, closing at 2 a.m. On New Year’s Day, Metrorail and Metrobus will operate on a Sunday schedule.

Commuter trains

Virginia Railway Express will not run trains Monday or Tuesday. On New Year’s Eve, the system will operate on its “S” Schedule, a reduced level of service. There will be no service New Year’s Day.

MARC will operate the Penn and Brunswick lines on their “S” schedule on Monday. There will be no service on the Camden Line. No MARC trains will operate Christmas Day.

On New Year’s Eve, the Penn and Brunswick lines will again be on the “S” schedule, with no service on the Camden Line. No trains will operate New Year’s Day.

Sober reminder

The SoberRide program operates from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. each night through Jan. 1 to help keep the roads safe by giving adults who have had too much to drink an alternative to driving home.

During SoberRide’s hours, D.C. area residents can call the toll-free number, 800-200-TAXI (8294) and get a ride home in a cab. It’s free for the first $30 of the ride.

For more transportation news, go to washingtonpost.com/transportation.

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