Using Dulles E-ZPass Lanes Not So Easy

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By Dr. Gridlock
Sunday, November 26, 2006

I wouldn't trade my E-ZPass for a solid string of green lights between Chantilly and Annapolis. But the electronic toll passes are still relatively new, and state transportation agencies continue to work through the best design for toll plazas.

Dr. Gridlock:

When approaching the main toll plaza on the Dulles Toll Road, which lane or lanes should be used for E-ZPass?

There seems to be some conflict between the signage and the lane markings. While the road is still just four lanes wide, the sign indicates that the two left lanes are E-ZPass only.

When you get up close to the toll plaza, however, the four lanes expand into almost 10, and the lane markings indicate that what was the far left lane on approach splits into two lanes and goes through the E-ZPass tollbooths.

On the far left lane, there is a solid white line on the right side of the lane and a dashed line on the left, which seems to indicate that only the far left lane can use the two E-ZPass tollbooths.

What I find every day is that people who were in the left-center lane approaching the plaza move to the left, crossing the solid line divide marker, and take the E-ZPass lane on the right.

I queue up in the far left lane and try to go straight through the E-ZPass lane in front of that lane (the one on the right), versus moving into the far left E-ZPass lane.

I do this because I usually want to take the next exit on the right for the Beltway and don't want to fight my way across another lane of traffic to get there. Invariably, I end up with someone coming across the solid white line, either forcing me to divert to the left-most toll plaza, or if I stay put, causing a near collision.

Noah Spivak


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