You’ve seen the headlines about the sky-high tolls on the new Interstate 66 Express Lanes: “A $40 toll to drive 10 miles?” “$34.50 for a one-way trip.” “Drivers adjust to new tolls, with Thursday peak of $25.50.”
But while the peak of the peak tolls have been high, they don’t tell the whole story. Most road users are paying a lot less, according to early data from the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Here are some highlights from first-day numbers:
- The average morning toll Monday was $10.70. This exceeds the projections of $9 for an eastbound trip for the entire 10 miles from the Capital Beltway to the District line.
- The evening commute was less expensive, averaging $3.80. The state had projected the westbound trip would cost $8.
- This puts the average round-trip at $14.50, below the estimated $17 that state transportation officials presented to the public two years ago.
So, how many solo commuters chose to pay Monday’s peak of the peak toll? VDOT said 39 vehicles paid the $34.50 that posted around 8:36 a.m.
Officials say that is less than 1 percent of all the morning rush hour users. A total 13,473 vehicles used the lanes, and about 38 percent had an E-ZPass Flex turned to carpool mode and traveled free. In the afternoon rush period, 3 to 7 p.m., 16,307 vehicles used the express lanes, and about 30 percent were carpoolers.
That means single-occupancy vehicles made up more than 60 percent of the road users. And they chose to pay a toll.