Last week, I attended a briefing given by Transurban - the company constructing the I-495 Express Lanes that will run between the Mixing Bowl and the Dulles Toll Road on I-495. You can see the briefing we were given at the end of this post.
These lanes are sometimes called High Occupancy Toll Lanes. The basic concept is that users will be pay tolls via transponders that vary depending upon traffic on the lanes. The more traffic, the more the tolls.
If you have three people in the car, you ride free. However, you have to purchase a new transponder with a switch so the system can differentiate your car from others.
The project is funded partially with public funds, but mainly with private money pursuant to an agreement with the Commonwealth guaranteeing a specified rate of return to the investor group.
Whether you use the lanes or not, you should educate yourself about not only how the lanes work, but also where the exits are located - there are not exits at every Beltway exit and there are some exits off the HOT lanes that do not exist on the Beltway.
If you would like more information, you can review the I-495 Express Lanes website here:
Express Lanes Elected Official Briefing (Oct 16) #3