As commuting budgets become an ever-growing part of driver expenditures in our area, Route 66 in Virginia has also succumb to that allure of cold, hard cash under the guise of lightening up the monstrous traffic that plagues the road during rush hours and seemingly for no apparent reason on the weekends. Starting at the beginning of 2017, the road – currently being outfitted for EZPass readers – “will charge a toll for solo drivers — projected peak charges of $7 during morning rush hour and $9 for the evening rush. Reverse commuters would pay between $1 and $2, according to VDOT.”
As of now, vehicles containing more than 2 people (not including a mannequin) are exempt from the fee. By 2020 however, the road which has always been HOV-2 will transition to HOV-3 like the 95 and 495 hot lanes requiring motorists to have three living, breathing human entities in the vehicle to skip out on the toll. If you’ve not had a chance to grace the clogged arteries leading to 66,a a certain point the entire road becomes HOV-2 with no toll as an option turning motorists who missed the last exit before toll into sitting ducks for State Troopers who regularly wait along exit ramps with ticket books in hand. In the past, it was thought the due to ticketing complaints by HOV violators, Google Maps rerouted commuters around the road entirely. If Google can’t figure out the weird road laws in our area, what hope is left for us?!
The difference between the 95 and 495 HOT lanes and the new 66 toll lanes lies with ownership. While the 95 and 495 HOT lanes are owned by Australian company, Transurban, the 66 express lanes will be owned by the public meaning income made from the road will go back into publicly owned infrastructure like buses and metro.
And before you Tesla owners click away and celebrate your toll exemption on 66, by 2017, VDOT plans to “eliminate the clean hybrid vehicle plate exception, which is now standard procedure when HOV lanes are turned into toll lanes.”
Not happy? There’s a support group for that. The 66 Alliance is upset with the plans to convert the well traveled road into a paved bank account for the state. “The 66 Alliance is a group of people who came together in 2015 and 2016 to oppose parts of VDOT’s plans to convert Interstate 66 into High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes from Haymarket to the Roosevelt Bridge.
Since inception, the 66 Alliance’s 4 goals have been:
- Retain HOV-2 on I-66 (VDOT wants to go to HOV-3);
- Prohibit tolling of “reverse” commuters on 66 inside the Beltway;
- Expand capacity on 66 inside and outside the Beltway; and,
- Retain the Clean Fuel Vehicle (hybrid) program”
You can join the 66 Alliance by clicking here.
Lawmakers say that having the toll road pricing be dynamic (increasing and decreasing throughout the commute) coupled with the fact that people can exit and enter the toll road at various entries and not have to pay the entire price to commute should lessen the blow to driver’s wallets while freeing up the drive to work.