Tolling on eight miles of Interstate 395 in Northern Virginia will begin Nov. 17, toll road operator Transurban said Monday afternoon.

The company had announced a Nov. 10 opening earlier Monday but later retracted it and then announced the Nov. 17 date.

The 395 Express Lanes will replace the current high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes, from near Edsall Road in Fairfax County to the 14th Street Bridge in the District. They are an extension of the 95 Express Lanes, which operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and stretch 31 miles between Fairfax and Stafford counties.

The general travel lanes aren’t affected by this change and will continue to be free. The high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, managed and operated by Transurban, will be northbound in the morning and southbound in the afternoon.

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The HOT lanes will be in effect at all times, and every vehicle, except motorcycles, will need an E-ZPass transponder to use them.

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The lanes will be free for carpoolers with three or more people aboard and who have a toll transponder set to HOV.

Users should keep in mind that tolls will be collected electronically, which means drivers need an E-ZPass or an E-ZPass Flex if they are carpooling. The Flex pass allows drivers to use the lanes free when set on carpool mode.

A good share of I-395 travelers probably already have an E-ZPass transponder and may be familiar with the growing network of HOT lanes in Northern Virginia, including the 95 Express Lanes.

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Officials are urging commuters who carpool on the highway to get the Flex transponder so they can continue to ride free.

When drivers pass under overhead gantries, their E-ZPass account will be debited the amount of the trip. Drivers without an E-ZPass device will receive a bill in the mail.

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Hybrid drivers, who were previously allowed to drive solo in HOV lanes, will be tolled if riding alone. Solo drivers willing to pay will be able to use the lanes.

Transurban said all critical tests necessary to open have been completed. Drivers will notice signs announcing the upcoming change and flashing from the toll gantries.

Officials say they hope the transition will help address congestion in the busy corridor and provide more options to travelers. Part of the toll revenue will go toward improvements in transit and other modes of transportation. Tolls will fluctuate to control congestion. There will be no cap on tolls.

Transurban said drivers need to know the following before hitting the toll road:

  • All ramps that currently lead to the 395 HOV lanes will require an E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex when the lanes become the 395 Express Lanes next week. This includes the northbound ramps near South Eads Street.
  • The 395 Express Lanes will pick up where the 95 Express Lanes leave off (around Edsall Road) and run up to the 14th Street Bridge in the District, giving drivers a continuous trip to the D.C. line.
  • A redesigned interchange at South Eads Street will bring quicker access to the Pentagon and Pentagon City, but it may take drivers some time to adjust to the new traffic patterns. There will be two ramps to exit the northbound 395 Express Lanes to South Eads Street: one ramp to the Pentagon and another ramp to Pentagon City. If exiting to the Pentagon, remember to stay left. New traffic lights will also go into effect.
  • The time it takes to reverse the 395 and 95 Express Lanes may take a bit longer during early operations because of the new stoplights at South Eads Street.
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