The toll to use the I-66 express lane jumped to its highest price ever this month, topping out at $46.75
The I-66 express lane began charging tolls for non-carpooling drivers back on December 4. Instead of charging a flat toll rate, toll prices fluctuated based on usage. So, when a lot of people were using the express lane, toll prices would jump up to discourage more people from using it and clogging the lane. When roadways were empty, toll prices bottomed out to encourage more people to use the lane. Designers call this "dynamic pricing," and the toll signs are programmed to update prices every six minutes based on how many cars are on the road.
By the end of the first week of the new I-66 tolls, drivers had already seen the prices jump up to over $30 during rush hour traffic.
Well, I-66 just set a new record last week. On Wednesday morning, at around 8:30 a.m., traffic was so bad that the tolls jumped to $46.75 -- the highest since the tolls were introduced. A week prior at exactly the same time, the price to use the I-66 express lane only hovered a little over $13.
Officials at the Virginia Department of Transportation are saying that despite the astronomical pricing, the tolls are working as designed. Not only do transportation officials hope that these dynamic tolls will better control traffic flows, but they also hope that high prices like these will encourage commuters to carpool or take mass transit. With Washington, D.C., routinely ranking as one of the worst traffic cities in the country, government officials are always looking for ways to discourage drivers from commuting to work on the highway.