And We Mean Wide Open
Well the savior of Northern Virginia traffic mitigation is here. Unfortunately for Fluor, Saturday’s on 495 don’t suffer any traffic problems… in fact with all the construction done on the 495 Express Lanes some weekday hours will likely avoid some of the worst of it.
Either way 495 Express is open now, regardless of who is using it. Monday will be the real measure of the system and if prices were similar to today there will be lots of happy beltway commuters. Likely the price will jump significantly as equilibrium is found between processing vehicles at 45 mph and charging enough toll to assure that the speed can be maintained. Perhaps this is an opportunity to set wagers on what you think your toll will be on Monday at 8am. My bet is on $3.50 between I-66 and Westpark exit and $8.50 from the Springfield Interchange to Westpark.
We’ve received back our poll results from this week which shows some interesting public opinions. When asked if the Mega-project will improve traffic conditions for 495, most people were tentative but positive with 53% saying it will somewhat improve congestion.
However when asked whether 495 Express lanes will help their own commute a plurality of respondents (48%) stated it will provide no improvement to their commute.
When comparing anticipated 495 Non-toll user opinion and the opinion of commuters who do not use 495 it was apparent that those who do not deal with 495 are far more optimistic than those who have dealt with this project’s construction over the past two years. 75% of non-495 commuters believe the project will improve traffic conditions compared to only 62% of 495 Single Occupant non-toll users.
Overall the poll shows that most commuters are hesitant but somewhat positive about the project’s impact. It may be interesting to revisit this poll after a few weeks to see what commuters on 495 are actually experiencing with the mega-project’s completion.
If you are using the HOT lanes today (or on Monday) we’d like to hear about your experience, whether it was good or bad.