About Those $40 Charges on Virginia's I-66

The peak tolls achieved during the first week of operation of the new HOT lanes on I-66 in Virginia raised eyebrows this week. Here's a closer look at the data behind the new system.

2 minute read

December 9, 2017, 9:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Mike Grinnell takes a deep dive into the data behind the I-66 express lane system that went into operation this week, making headlines for charging $40 to access the new HOT lanes during the Tuesday morning peak period.

First, Grinnell makes clear the changes this week on I-66: 

A few things changed for drivers with the introduction of these new HOT lanes, but the biggest change was for single-occupancy vehicle drivers. Previously they were restricted from driving on I-66 eastbound between 6:30 am and 9:00 am and westbound between 4:00 pm and 6:30 pm. Outside of these time restrictions, they were free to access the roads anytime.

Then, Grinnell compares the actual toll prices to the estimates prepared by the Virginia Department of Transportation two years ago when planning the HOT lane system. Despite the eye-popping figures picked up by news outlets around the country (including us), the numbers did hold pretty close to the original estimates.

By taking a closer look at the numbers, Grinnell is also able to pull a couple early lessons from the system, including when driving is most expensive and insight into how dynamic pricing works. Grinnell also reminds readers that the tolls will pay for the installation and upkeep of the tolling system in addition to multi-modal transportation improvements like bus service, park-n-ride facilities, improvements to Metro, and road improvements. 

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