I-95 HOT Lanes Open, Here’s All You Need to Know

by | Dec 29, 2015 | Government

The new I-95 Express Lanes opened late in the day December 14. The converted high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) to high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes operate for nearly 29 miles — from I-95 near Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to the vicinity of Edsall Road on I-395 in Fairfax County.

Drivers may use the new HOT lanes for free until tolls begin on December 29, 2014. Existing rules remain in effect during rush hours, requiring three or more occupants for a vehicle to use the express lanes, until tolls begin.

The 95 Express Lanes Expand and Replace the Existing, Traditional HOV Lanes Along I-95

– The 95 Express Lanes is a toll road. Vehicles with only one or two people have to pay a toll with E-ZPass to use the 95 Express Lanes.
– Only passenger vehicles with three or more people and an E-ZPass Flex can use the 95 Express Lanes for free.
– The 95 Express Lanes’ toll changes based on real-time traffic conditions. Transurban estimates a typical trip of 10 to 12 miles during rush hour will cost between $6 and $8.
– Vanpools with E-ZPass Flex, motorcycles and buses travel the 95 Express Lanes for free.


– Carpools need an E-ZPass Flex.
– Carpools with three or more people can travel toll-free on the Express Lanes with an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode.
– E-ZPass Flex works like a standard E-ZPass, but allows carpoolers to switch between HOV and toll-paying modes. The switchable E-ZPass Flex lets the Express Lanes operator know which vehicles are HOV-3+ so that they aren’t charged a toll.

I-395 Remains Traditional HOV

The 95 Express Lanes end north of Edsall Road in Fairfax County. Standard HOV rules apply on Interstate 395 in Northern Virginia. Vehicles that do not meet the HOV requirement when the HOV rules are in effect will have to exit from the 95 Express Lanes and reenter the regular I-395 lanes after Edsall Road to continue into Arlington and Washington, D.C. Only those vehicles with three or more persons, motorcycles and vehicles with clean-fuel plates issued before July 1, 2006, will be permitted to continue on to the I-395 HOV lanes.

Drivers of Hybrid Vehicles with Clean Fuel Plates

When the 95 Express Lanes open, all hybrid vehicles with clean fuel plates must pay a toll or have three people in the car to use the lanes. The rules affecting hybrids are as follows:
– Hybrid drivers can ride toll-free on the 95 Express Lanes with three people in the vehicle and an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode; or,
– They can pay the toll with an E-ZPass if traveling with fewer than three people in the vehicle.
– The 95 Express Lanes will end just north of Edsall Road. From Edsall Road to Washington, D.C., the HOV lanes will exist with the same rules that are in effect today. Those rules allow hybrid vehicles with clean fuel plates issued before July 1, 2006, to use the HOV lanes without three people in the vehicle on the I-395 HOV lanes. Vehicles with fuel plates issued after that date must obey the three-or-more-persons rule.

Drivers of Trucks, Commercial/18-Wheel Vehicles

– Vehicles with more than two axles — including 18-wheel trucks — will not be permitted to access the 95 Express Lanes.
– Small and mid-sized trucks with two axles may use the Express Lanes as toll paying customers, or they may travel toll-free if they have an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode and three or more people in the vehicle.


Motorcycles do not need an E-ZPass; they may use the lanes for free.


Vehicles may not tow trailers on the 95 Express Lanes.

Law Enforcement Officials

– Local, state or federal law enforcement officials will not be exempt from toll and HOV requirements on the 95 Express Lanes unless in the direct pursuit of their duties, which does not include commuting to and from the workplace.
– Law enforcement officials can contact the Express Lanes pre- or post- travel for trips they believe qualify as exempt. Please contact [email protected] for more information.
HOV-3+ vehicles with an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode, motorcycles and transit will have toll-free access to the Express Lanes at all times. Drivers with fewer than three occupants can choose to pay a toll with E-ZPass to use the lanes on occasions when they need to get somewhere on time.

Get an E-ZPass

Drivers can get an E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex at retail locations including Wegmans, select Giant Food Stores, E-ZPass Customer Service Centers, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Passes are also available for purchase online at www.ezpassva.com or by calling Virginia E-ZPass at 877-762-7824.

Don’t Stop or Back Up

Drivers are advised to never stop or back up in an attempt to avoid the 95 Express Lanes and to get back into the general purpose lanes. If you accidentally find yourself in the 95 Express Lanes or are unable to safely merge into the general purpose lanes, then just keep going in the Express Lanes. Take the first exit and then go to www.95ExpressLanes.com and pay the toll online, or call 1-855-495-9777. Backing up or stopping puts you at risk of causing a crash and being seriously injured or killed.

Extra Law Enforcement

Extra Virginia State Police troopers will be on patrol during the opening days of the 95 Express Lanes to help keep traffic moving safely and efficiently in both the Express Lanes and general purpose lanes of I-95. Troopers have the authorization to warn or summons those in violation of the state law mandating the HOV-3 requirement in the 95 Express Lanes (Code of VA 33.2-503 http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+33.2-503).

To prevent being stopped and cited:

– If traveling with an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode, then there must be at least three people riding inside the vehicle to be in compliance with the HOV-3 requirement. Those drivers not in compliance will be ticketed.
– When using the E-ZPass Flex, the mode must be selected before entering the 95 Express Lanes. So, don’t forget to flip (the switch) before your trip.
– Make sure you nominate by phone (1-855-495-9777) the bumper mounted transponder for HOV-3 travel at least 30 minutes prior to entering the Express Lanes.

For more information to plan your travels along I-95, acquire an E-ZPass, or for information on how to upgrade to an E-ZPass Flex, please visit www.95ExpressLanes.com.

Related Stories

Plan Ahead for the I-95 Express Lanes

I-95 HOV Rules Change in December

For more information, visit 95ExpressLanes.com.

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