After days of accidents at the entrances of the new Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway in Virginia, the operator of the toll road made some changes in the stripes painted on the lanes as motorists approach the toll highway. The accidents have declined.
"Merge striping" was extended an extra mile before the southern entrance to the toll lanes. And a solid white line was also extended by about 700 feet.
As of late afternoon on Wednesday -- one of the busiest travel days of the year -- no accidents had been reported near the entrances of the toll road. Since Saturday, about 10 accidents had been reported in the area of the toll lane entrances. Helicopter footage shows cars in which some drivers have made last-second lane changes to avoid the toll lanes. Some motorists have stopped on the Beltway and backed out of the Express Lanes.
More safety improvements are coming. The company operating the Express Lanes plans to substitute taller plastic pylons which act as lane separators. The taller pylons will be placed only at the entrances of the roadway so that drivers will be able to see the lane dividers at a greater distance.
For most of the day, Wednesday, usage of the toll lanes remained quite light, despite low prices and despite significant gridlock on the inner loop of the Beltway for much of the afternoon.