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JUST IN: I-66 Express Lanes expected to fully open this month

The I-66 Express Lanes at the Vienna Metro station, as of September (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The extended I-66 Express Lanes outside the Capital Beltway will open ahead of schedule, the Virginia Department of Transportation says.

Previously scheduled to arrive in December, the lanes will open in the westbound direction from I-495 in Dunn Loring to Route 28 in Centreville as soon as Saturday, Nov. 19, VDOT said in a news release snuck in just before a three-day weekend.

The eastbound lanes along that 13-mile stretch of road are expected to open by the end of November.

“Updates will be provided to the public as final construction progresses. All work is weather dependent, and inclement conditions could affect the final opening schedule,” VDOT noted.

Construction to extend the I-66 toll lanes 22 miles outside the Beltway has been underway since summer 2016. Toll lanes opened inside the Beltway in December 2017.

Nine miles of express lanes west of Centreville opened in early September, also coming sooner than anticipated. Tolling on that section, which extends to Gainesville, began on Sept. 24.

As with the existing express lanes around Northern Virginia, the new I-66 lanes will charge tolls that vary based on traffic volumes and speed. Vehicles that meet the high occupancy requirements can use the lanes for free, but they need to have an E-ZPass Flex set to “HOV On.”

The I-66 Express Lanes currently have an HOV requirement of two or more occupants, but that will increase to three or more occupants along the entire corridor, starting Dec. 5, according to VDOT, which says the new rule will be consistent with other toll lanes in the region.

Here’s more from VDOT on how drivers can prepare for the express lane openings:

Obtain an E-ZPass to pay tolls, or an E-ZPass Flex to travel toll-free as HOV. Drivers can obtain an E-ZPass at ezpassva.com, by calling 877-762-7824, or in person at many Giant and Wegmans grocery stores in Northern Virginia, as well as at AAA offices, Fairfax Connector stores, and DMV Customer Service Centers.

Become familiar with other payment options available through I-66 EMP such as paying online, via the mail, by calling 833-643-2867, or in person at the 66 Express Lanes Customer Service Center in Manassas. Payment options other than E-ZPass will incur administrative fees. More information can be found at Ride66express.com.

More information about the I-66 Express Lanes can be found at Ride66express.com.

Though the express lanes will open to traffic soon, work on some interchanges and a shared-use trail alongside the highway will continue. The overall project is scheduled for completion by mid-2023.

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