November 17, 2022
Today, Transurban North America celebrates 10 years since the 495 Express Lanes opened in November 2012 as the first truly dynamically-priced managed lanes system in the United States. Delivered as a public-private partnership (P3) with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the 14-mile initial segment has grown to a 65-mile system of Express Lanes operated or under development by Transurban. Over the decade, the 495, 95 and 395 Express Lanes have saved nearly 10 million Greater Washington Area (GWA) customers more than 33 million hours of time in one of the fastest growing regions in the U.S.
"Investments in Virginia’s best-in-class transportation networks do more than just modernize physical infrastructure,” said Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shep Miller. “Virginia sees a return for each dollar we, or the private sector, delivers that translates to a stronger, more competitive economy. Since the Express Lanes opened, more businesses have chosen Northern Virginia to bring their jobs, more educational institutions have expanded to educate our students, and more travelers have reached their destinations on a network of reliable and expanded travel choices.”
The $4 billion private-sector investment in expanded transportation choices, including Express Lanes on 495, 95 and 395, has bolstered the local economy, creating an estimated 53,000 jobs and $8 billion in economic activity that includes the growth of existing businesses and the attraction of some of the world’s largest employers. Transurban’s Express Lanes projects have also invested nearly $1 billion in Disabled Business Enterprises (DBE) and Small, Women- and Minority-Owned (SWaM) businesses in Virginia.
The 495 Express Lanes delivered a high-tech, first of its kind roadway to reduce congestion and provide new travel choices along one of the nation’s busiest corridors. The project was made possible through an innovative combination of financing tools, including the first time the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program and Private Activity Bonds were used to deliver a high impact P3 further enabled by one of the largest private sector investments in a U.S. P3 greenfield project at the time.
“More than 10 years ago, we started a journey alongside Virginia leaders to introduce a new way to travel, putting technology to work to unlock congestion and tangibly improve the quality of life of travelers in this region,” said Pierce Coffee, president, Transurban North America. “Today, we celebrate this partnership that is giving more people more time back in their day through choice and convenience. I thank those at the Virginia Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, and all of our construction and community partners for their support that enabled this future ready network.”
The Express Lanes use more than 2,000 on-road data points per mile to keep traffic moving at free-flowing conditions. Cutting-edge traffic management and safety monitoring technology is deployed across the system of Lanes, including the use of automated incident detection and ramp metering sensors that identify both live traffic issues and emerging traffic patterns. A rapid incident response capability also enables teams to respond to customer incidents on the road in eight minutes on average, reducing delays and improving overall safety. Over the past decade, Transurban’s Express Lanes have maintained 55 miles per hour on average more than 99% of the time – all at an average trip cost under $8.
The 495 Express Lanes also introduced the first ridesharing, carpooling and bus transit incentive on the Capital Beltway that prioritized the movement of more people over more vehicles. The result has been the movement of an additional 50,000 people through the Springfield to Tysons segment each day and a 105% growth in both carpooling and bus use across the 495, 95 and 395 Express Lanes system.
Transurban has also committed to more than $15 million in annual funding from toll revenue to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission’s (NVTC) Commuter Choice program to invest in transit along the 395/95 corridor. Through NVTC’s efforts, the toll revenues have funded expanded Park and Ride lots, new and enhanced bus routes, and associated bus fleet expansions. These investments in turn have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 67% relative to driving alone for comparable trips and supported 1.4 million more trips through the 395/95 corridor by transit and other alternatives to driving alone since the program launched in 2019.
“NVTC’s innovative Commuter Choice program has demonstrated measurable reductions in the number of people driving alone and harmful vehicle emissions by providing incentives for people to find new ways to ride to where they want to go,” said Kate Mattice, executive director of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission. “Commuter Choice funded projects benefit the entire region by reducing traffic congestion and taking the stress out of navigating our busy roads and highways”
Transurban’s partnership with the Commonwealth has also helped deliver additional resources and infrastructure to meet important infrastructure priorities and accelerate the delivery of public infrastructure, including:
To further support local communities along its corridors, Transurban launched its Express Lanes Community Grant program more than a decade ago to reduce impacts of its projects and provide investments to improve the long-term health, vitality and sustainability of local neighborhoods. The grant program has provided funding to more than 350 local Northern Virginia non-profits. To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Lanes, Transurban last week announced a donation of $25,000 to create a dedicated military and veteran fund for Northern Virginia Community College’s (NOVA) Student Success Fund. The contribution will provide NOVA’s 4,000 veteran and military students along Transurban’s corridors with emergency grants and scholarships to support their continuous education. The donation builds on Transurban’s long-standing commitment to veterans, military and government employees across the region including organizations like the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Fund, Virginia Star Quilts for Valor, and Workhouse Arts Center arts programs for wounded soldiers.
In commemoration of the Anniversary, Transurban has released a report detailing the significant impact the 495, 95 and 395 Express Lanes have had in transforming the region. In addition to the report, the annual State of the Lanes polling research that provides insights on how customers continue to value the expanded travel choices of the Express Lanes is being released. After an unprecedented shift to work-from-home, more area drivers are back on the road and the Express Lanes remain popular.
New research finds:
Building on the success of the Express Lanes, Transurban and VDOT are currently progressing an additional 12.5 miles of Express Lanes extensions. Fred Ex will deliver an additional 10 miles to the nation’s longest reversible system of Express Lanes in the U.S. by late 2023. Fred Ex will provide 66% more capacity during peak periods and will move 30% more people and 23% more vehicles. Construction also recently began on a 2.5-mile extension of 495 NEXT that will deliver new and expanded connections to the Dulles Toll Road and the George Washington Memorial Parkway. 495 NEXT provides an option for faster, more reliable travel – reducing commuting times by 50% during rush hour for those who choose to use the Express Lanes. Transurban was recently selected by Maryland to advance predevelopment works for the New American Legion Bridge I-270 Traffic Relief plan Express Lanes, which is envisioned to extend the benefits of the Express Lanes across the I-270 corridor including the replacement of the aging American Legion Bridge.
As a roadway of firsts, Transurban continues to innovate to deliver the next generation of travel across its multidecade partnership with Virginia including the development of safer, more connected and automated infrastructure. Following a partnership with Federal Highway Administration to trial Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, Transurban is partnering with Robotics Research – a Maryland-based national leader in automated technology – to test how automated buses can interact with infrastructure. Using propriety software and Transurban’s data rich roadways, trials will provide buses expanded range of information beyond their sensors to travel safer and more efficiently with live demonstrations in 2023.
For more information and to download the report visit www.tenyearsofexpresslanes.com