Drivers could be using the Beltway Express lanes to cruise to Thanksgiving feasts.
The 14 miles of special toll lanes will open early, as soon as Nov. 17, in plenty of time for Turkey Day travel, the Virginia Department of Transportation announced Wednesday.
The lanes, which are free for carpoolers but will charge a varying toll to other drivers who just want a less congested ride, were expected to open in December. They stretch from the Springfield interchange to just north of the Dulles Toll Road on the Virginia side of the Beltway. Workers monitoring the lanes will raise toll prices at peak use times, reducing congestion on those lanes by making them more expensive to use.
Drivers will need an E-ZPass to ride the lanes, which won't have toll booths, or an E-ZPass Flex if they want to carpool and avoid the electronic toll.
"The 495 Express Lanes are on track to open earlier than expected in November, which means drivers must take steps now to prepare to use the new lanes," VDOT Commissioner Greg Whirley said in a statement. "This facility will have a regional impact on all travelers. We need drivers to be prepared for the changes in traffic patterns and new rules of the road. If you plan to use the Express Lanes, make sure you are equipped with an E-ZPass."
Drivers can go to the Beltway Express Lanes website to learn more about how to use the new lanes.