Transurban-Fluor has unveiled the Operations Center that will control the dynamic tolling on Virginia’s I-495 Express Lanes that run down the middle of the Capital Beltway. The new lanes, which are expected to open by the end of November, will connect the Dulles Toll Road to the I-395/I-95/Springfield interchange and will charge drivers variable tolls depending on traffic volume. The Express Lanes’ private sector operator, Transurban-Fluor, is required to keep traffic moving at least 45mph (72km/hr), so if traffic speeds slow down due to heavy volume, tolls will be significantly increased to deter further drivers entering the lanes.
The center features a multi-screen monitoring system that takes data from CCTV cameras and on-road traffic sensors, which will monitor traffic 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in order to gather the traffic information necessary to determine toll prices. Real-time toll prices will be displayed on variable message signs (VMS), which are placed in advance of each access point, to inform drivers so they can decide whether to enter the Express Lanes. The Operations Center will also use closed-circuit and automatic incident-detection cameras on the roadway to manage traffic safety, by quickly detecting incidents and alerting dedicated incident-response crews assigned to the Express Lanes.
“Three times per mile we will have detector stations that will give our control center information regarding what is the volume of traffic and what is the speed of traffic,” said Transurban-Fluor operations manager, Rob Kerns. “Our dynamic pricing is scheduled to update every fifteen minutes.” Jennifer Aument, a project spokeswoman, commented, “The tolls are set minute-to-minute, based on what’s actually happening out there. We won’t know until the road opens how drivers are reacting to different toll prices. The average toll will be between US$3 and US$6 during busy periods. The Express Lanes are designed for use a couple times a week, when drivers need a dependable ride.” Tolls will be collected using the E-ZPass transponder system, with HOVs (High Occupancy Vehicles), buses, and motorcycles riding free, although HOV carpoolers will require an E-ZPass Flex dual-mode transponder.
19 October 2012
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