Interstate 66 east at the Capital Beltway in Virginia. Photo Credit: WTOP/Dave Dildine

Research based on INRIX traffic speed data, I-66 toll rate data and data on I-95 and I-495 express lane tolls is revealing some interesting insights about commuter traffic in the DC area. Donna Chen, PhD, assistant professor and researcher in UVA’s Center for Transportation Studies, used these various sources to gauge time travel savings in relation to toll rates per mile. While results vary depending on time of day and route, Chen offered that tolls paid per mile do not always match with time savings, especially if drivers aren’t able to compare regular lanes to toll lanes. Drivers may actually be paying to drive on more congested lanes at times when general purpose lanes are clear.

The algorithm is responsive to increased/decreased demand so making broad-scale recommendations for toll lane usage is difficult. As Chen explained,”If I give too much advice about when the tolls are worth it, then everybody would try to use those lanes at those specific times. With increased demand, they would increase the toll.”

Virginia’s Office of the Secretary of Transportation highlighted the time savings suggested by the research on I-66 during tolling hours during a recent meeting with Fairfax County supervisors.

Read the WTOP story here: https://wtop.com/dc-transit/2018/07/are-tolls-worth-it-on-virginias-hot-lanes/.