The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and I-66 Express Mobility Partners, which operates the new I-66 Express Lanes, announced last week that the westbound I-66 Express Lanes from I-495 to Route 28 in Centreville will open on or about Saturday, Nov. 19.
Officials expect the eastbound Express Lanes on this same 13-mile section of highway will open by the end of November.
All work is weather-dependent and inclement conditions could affect the final opening schedule. VDOT will update the public as final construction progresses.
Motorists may use the I-66 Express Lanes, which are adjacent to the general-purpose lanes, by paying a toll. Toll prices are dynamic and fluctuate depending on traffic volumes and speed in order to manage demand for the lanes and keep traffic flowing. Eligible high-occupancy vehicles (HOVs) can use the I-66 Express Lanes toll-free, but must have an E-ZPass Flex set to the “HOV On” mode.
Currently, vehicles must have two or more occupants to qualify as HOV on I-66. Starting Dec. 5, vehicles will need to have three or more occupants to qualify as HOV on I-66 and travel the Express Lanes without paying a toll.
This change from HOV-2+ to HOV-3+ will apply across the entire I-66 corridor, including 22.5 miles of Express Lanes outside the Beltway and 9 miles inside the Beltway between I-495 and Route 29 in Rosslyn, which operate on weekdays during peak periods in peak commute directions.
This HOV-3+ requirement is consistent with HOV requirements on the other Express Lanes in Northern Virginia. The change from HOV-2+ to HOV-3+ also will take effect on the stretch of I-66 west of the Express Lanes between Haymarket and Gainesville where there will continue to be a traditional HOV lane that operates during peak-travel periods.
To learn more about I-66 Express Lanes, including how to access them, visit Ride66express.com.
The upcoming opening of the final sections of I-66 Express Lanes follows the Sept. 10 opening of the western section of the Express Lanes between Gainesville and Route 28 in Centreville. This 9-mile stretch of Express Lanes opened ahead of schedule and provides direct access to and from two new commuter parking lots at University Boulevard (Gainesville) and Century Park Drive (Manassas), which were built as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project.
Construction on some project features such as interchange improvements and a shared-use path adjacent to I-66 will continue after the opening of the Express Lanes, with scheduled completion by mid-2023.