Dr. Gridlock’s traffic, transit tips: I-95 HOV to HOT, Metro Silver Line fares

Robert Thomson
Columnist March 16, 2013
Converting I-95 lanes

I often receive humbling reminders that readers aren’t memorizing my columns. In the middle of Monday’s online discussion, an apparently startled reader wrote: “Wait, HOT lanes? They’re going to convert the I-95 HOV lanes to HOT lanes?”

In fact, the Virginia Department of Transportation and its private partners began working last summer on converting the high-occupancy vehicle lanes in the middle of Interstate 95 to high-occupancy toll lanes similar to those in operation on the Capital Beltway. The 95 Express Lanes are scheduled to be open by the end of 2014.

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region. View Archive

Carpoolers will be able to ride for free, while others will pay a variable toll, collected via ­E-ZPass. Carpoolers will need to get the new-style E-ZPass Flex transponder, which has a special setting telling the toll reader that the vehicle is claiming the carpool exemption. Hybrids that now qualify for a free ride will lose their exemption.

Flyover ramp

Drivers may notice that crews are working just north of Edsall Road on the foundations for a new flyover bridge from the HOV lanes to the regular lanes of I-395 North. This is the area where the conversion to HOT lanes will end, but the HOV lanes will continue north in the middle of I-395 to the 14th Street Bridge.

Drivers who pay a toll to travel north on the I-95 HOT lanes because they don’t meet the carpool rules will need to leave the lanes in the Edsall Road area and get over to the regular lanes. Otherwise, they will be in violation of the HOV rules and subject to a ticket.

If this isn’t all perfectly clear, we’ll be going over it many times before the HOT lanes open on I-95. I’ve been learning from travelers’ continuing questions about the 495 Express Lanes that the HOT lanes are quite a complex concept.

Silver Line fares

Another participant in the online chat asked what the fare rates will be for Metro’s Silver Line, scheduled to open late this year. The Silver Line will be part of the regular Metrorail system, so the fares will be the same.

If the line operated today, a rush-hour trip between the end of the line at Wiehle Avenue in the Reston area and Metro Center in the District would hit the maximum fare of $5.75, and would take about 40 minutes, according to the transit authority.

A trip between Tysons Corner and Metro Center would cost about $4.70. A trip between Tysons and Rosslyn would be about $4.

At peak periods, the Silver Line trains will operate every six minutes. Off-peak and on weekends, they will operate every 12 to 15 minutes.

Sober reminder

SoberRide, offered by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, will once again provide those 21 and older with a safe ride home if they’ve celebrated too much on St. Patrick’s Day. The operation begins at 4 p.m. Sunday and continues until 4 a.m. Monday.

During those 12 hours, residents of the D.C. area can call the toll-free line, 800-200-TAXI, and get a free ride home, up to the equivalent of a $30 fare.

14th Street Bridge

The District Department of Transportation is closing single lanes on the 14th Street Bridge through Tuesday.

The closings, for maintenance work, occur from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. between Maine Avenue and Ohio Drive SW. Watch for signs indicating the open lanes.

Work on Route 32

Watch for single-lane closings from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through Thursday nights on Route 32 in Clarksville.

Temporary traffic stops of up to half an hour could occur between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. as Maryland State Highway Administration workers install steel beams over the highway for a new bridge.

Use Ten Oaks Road to avoid delays.

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

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