WTOP: Express Lanes signs about to debut on Beltway
Adam Tuss reports that in the next few weeks we'll start seeing the "495 Express Lanes" signage. I can report, based on a trip to Falls Church today, that at least one is already up and is not covered with plastic—on the Inner Loop stretch between US-50 and I-66 there's a new sign with the white "E-ZPass Express" banner. It looks like it's got a VMS section underneath it, though I didn't get a great look because I was in slow traffic surrounded by trucks (including tractor-trailers driving on the shoulder). I also noted that they've started a bit of lane-striping near Braddock on the Inner Loop (very minimal, to be sure). The pace of construction has really accelerated big-time in the past couple of months, no doubt helped by the great weather recently. It looks like they definitely ought to have it all finished this year—though I hope for all of our sakes one of the final steps in the project would be a full re-pave of most of the existing road surface to get rid of all the annoying ruts and seams left over from the years of construction.
(Incidentally, I noted that the first advance overhead for I-66, which is located just before the Gallows Road overpass, has the exit tab on the LEFT for a right-side exit. I sent an e-mail to Steve Titunik of VDOT, but I rather doubt the sign will be replaced or altered because the exit "tab" appears to be part of the same large piece of metal, making a change uneconomical and impractical. I suppose, given the new standard that exit tabs for left exits include the "LEFT" banner, and given that the new signs on the Beltway follow that standard, the misplacement of this exit tab maybe isn't such a big deal—since it doesn't say "LEFT EXIT 49 B–A," it necessarily means it's a right-side exit.)
The part of Adam Tuss's article that I find most interesting, following a re-read, is his comment that they're going to start testing the tolling equipment in the next few weeks. I have to assume this is going to be on the portion between I-66 and US-29. That section is already paved within the last few weeks.