New Beltway lanes seek to break gridlock in DC

By MATTHEW BARAKAT

McLEAN, Va. (AP) — The Capital Beltway, notorious both as a symbol of our political gridlock and traffic gridlock, is getting a major makeover.

The 495 Express Lanes will open Saturday on a 14-mile stretch of the Beltway in northern Virginia. The four new Express Lanes — two in each direction — will supplement the existing lanes.

Drivers who want to use the new lanes, though, will have to either pay a toll or join a carpool of three or more.

The lanes were built as part of a $2 billion public-private partnership and are part of a growing trend across the nation of so-called High Occupancy Toll lanes, or HOT lanes.

Once derided as "Lexus lanes" that would only benefit the wealthy, many early opponents of the project have come to support it.

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