Express EZ Pass coming to Downtown Expressway

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -- Changes are coming to the Downtown Expressway in the coming months. Crews will begin working on the installation of Express EZ Pass for part of the road.

We've all been there. A backup at the toll on the Downtown Expressway, ending up late to work or late to get home. But now things are a-changing.

Leaders are getting ready to make some major upgrades to the westbound side of the toll, to get you out of the city quicker.

"Be able to drive without interruption all the way into the heart of Chesterfield County. It will be a significant time improvement," says Mike Berry with the Richmond Metro Authority.

Leaders say the Express EZ Pass that will be built, will shave several minutes off your commute.

Here's the catch though. If you're driving on the eastbound side into the City of Richmond, you're still going to have to go through these gates and here's why.

"The volume of traffic we would move in would be so great that the ramps and city streets could not absorb that much traffic," says David Caudill with the RMA.

So for now there will always be eight lanes to go through to get into the city. There is a plan though in the future to add Express EZ Pass on the eastbound side too.

All of this work will start within the next 30 days. First you'll notice crews widening the toll plaza on each side and adding an extra travel lane in the middle of the road.

Then starting next spring, the work will begin on the express lanes. "That creates a little bit of a headache coming in and out of the city because we'll have to have a split traffic situation in the evening to go around the work zone in the middle," says Caudill.

So pack your patience then, because leaders say the end result of the $15 million project will be worth it, "and there will be no toll increase with this project," adds Berry.

The entire project is expected to wrap up in the fall of 2012.

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