FALLS CHURCH, VA - Tolls have officially started on I-66 inside the Beltway on Monday morning.
All lanes will become Express Lanes during peak hours, expanded over the current rush hour to 5:30-9:30 a.m. and 3-7 p.m.
Since I-66 built inside the Beltway in the 1970s, it has been restricted to carpools. Now, for the first time, that section of Interstate 66 will open to single drivers during rush hour.
"It has been off limits to solo drivers since its inception, but now, all of that changes."
Drivers will have to pay tolls, which will vary according to use. The higher usage, the higher the toll.
Triple A predicts those tolls could rise to $9 each way. Tolls will be based on dynamic pricing, the more congestion, the higher the toll.
"I think charging people so much money just to get to work is ridiculous! What about people who make minimum wage," asked Kristi Hatfield of Falls Church, Va.
HOV-2 (cars with two occupants) can ride for free if they upgrade their EZ Pass to a Flex for $10 and remember to flip the switch to HOV so they're not charged.
The deal to open up I-66 to single drivers included expanding and creating new bus services in Prince William, Loudoun, Fairfax and Arlington counties.
Triple A's John Townsend hopes the tolls will push more people to carpool or ditch their cars and ride buses.
"This is a major deal because it changes the transportation landscape in the Washington-Metro area which suffers from the worst congestion in the entire nation," said Townsend, who is hopeful the changes will push more people to ride buses or to carpool.
"In theory and in practice, it should make the commute much smoother," said Townsend.
However, whether I-66 becomes more or less clogged remains to be seen.
"People love their independence, that's why they have cars," said Townsend.
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