495 Express Lanes

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495 Express Lanes

Postby wpegues » Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:52 am

A very interesting routing occurred this evening, just before 7pm (for those editors contributing to mapping the NoVA I495 HOT lanes.

I go the same time several times a week. Routing has always told me at times to take the regular lanes, and at times to take the HOT lanes. So, its not always a default for the HOT being faster. Actually, the distance in the HOT lanes is somewhat longer going south bound from 267 to Braddock Road. Not much, probably not more than 100 yards or so. But this is just an aside.

The curious thing is that it was posting the ramp from 267 to the HOT Express lanes as RED for major traffic backup. Not true, no one was on it at all. But what was most curious was the routing it gave me.

I am coming from Reston down 267, the routing told me to take the exit ramp to the regular south bond I495 lanes, travel south to route 7. Exit at route 7 and then with a couple stay rights and lefts it was onto the ramp for the South bound HOT lanes.

Now, if that is actually possible, its not a bad idea, if there was truly a backup where the red was indicated. However, in the past there have been some impossible connections at the Route 7/I495 interchange. I don't know personally, I avoid that intersection and that part of route 7 at all costs. But the navigation map showed it as a fairly smooth and direct connection, not a bunch of loop arounds and double backs which I have seen from time to time.

My question - I am wondering if the road really do connect like that, or if there is a mapping error there.

I thought it best to post it here rather than log a problem report via Waze and get lost in the jumble on the map.

I do know that the near term future whenever the aerials are updated, that there is some needed work on the various ramps. some are really out of position.

Another anomaly I had been tracking and finally made note of involves traveling south bound on the HOT lanes at the Braddock Road exit. The verbal directions are correct, but way out of time between the way the exit ramp is drawn and the directions you get.

The initial notice is not bad, at least you are in advance of the exit somewhat. But that's just chance. When you get the 1/4 mile alert that in 1/4 mile stay to the left - in actuality you are already on the ramp and going up the elevated grade. This is not the case of the ramp connection being at the end of the dotted lines for the exit lane, its off enough that when you are actually on the separated ramp going up hill that you get the note that you need to exit in 1/4 mile. So the ramp connection to the HOT lane is about 1/4 mile too late. It really is a long exit ramp, most are on the HOT lanes since they need to go uphill to meet an elevated road.

We may need to wait for some better aerials, but, some of these that we actually go exploring on we might take to reporting here and to have those that work those specific areas do some corrections, report back, and the next time we travel it after the tiles are updated, report on how close it is.

Anyway, I won't be doing my usual M-W-F travel of the hot lanes until next Wednesday. Off to Milwaukee for a major national competition. Otherwise, I might try to explorer that connection at 7 and 495 and the hot lanes. Also now that the signage is all in place and revealed, we need to do some cleanups on the ramp names. The vast majority are pretty good. But I have noticed that some of the new signage for older ramps has dropped some of the additional locations you are headed towards. If a ramp headed south used to say 'Richmond, Alexandria' the new signs have probably dropped the Alexandria. Something sticks in my head about an article I read over a year ago that signage for interstates was typically going to drop local landmarks and towns in lieu of more distant towns, unless it was an exit directly to the local area. Thus, we locals will no longer know we can get to Alexandria on 495, only to Richmond. If we are local, we are supposed to know the former I guess -grin!
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495 Express Lanes

Postby wpegues » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:11 am

oops, that posted twice - tapatalk made it look like it didn't post at all.
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Re: 495 Express Lanes

Postby Mike-1323 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 2:23 pm

wpegues wrote:I am coming from Reston down 267, the routing told me to take the exit ramp to the regular south bond I495 lanes, travel south to route 7. Exit at route 7 and then with a couple stay rights and lefts it was onto the ramp for the South bound HOT lanes.

Now, if that is actually possible, its not a bad idea, if there was truly a backup where the red was indicated. However, in the past there have been some impossible connections at the Route 7/I495 interchange. I don't know personally, I avoid that intersection and that part of route 7 at all costs. But the navigation map showed it as a fairly smooth and direct connection, not a bunch of loop arounds and double backs which I have seen from time to time.

My question - I am wondering if the road really do connect like that, or if there is a mapping error there.


That appears to be a valid route. It looks like you can exit the regular 495 S lanes onto rt7 south then turn right onto the express lanes. I'm not in that area very often, can anybody confirm this either way?

As to why the 267 -> 495 express ram was showing as a red traffic jam; who knows. There doesn't appear to be any opportunity for a ghost jam to occur on that segment so it's a mystery where the slowdown came from.

wpegues wrote:Another anomaly I had been tracking and finally made note of involves traveling south bound on the HOT lanes at the Braddock Road exit. The verbal directions are correct, but way out of time between the way the exit ramp is drawn and the directions you get.

The initial notice is not bad, at least you are in advance of the exit somewhat. But that's just chance. When you get the 1/4 mile alert that in 1/4 mile stay to the left - in actuality you are already on the ramp and going up the elevated grade. This is not the case of the ramp connection being at the end of the dotted lines for the exit lane, its off enough that when you are actually on the separated ramp going up hill that you get the note that you need to exit in 1/4 mile. So the ramp connection to the HOT lane is about 1/4 mile too late. It really is a long exit ramp, most are on the HOT lanes since they need to go uphill to meet an elevated road.

We may need to wait for some better aerials, but, some of these that we actually go exploring on we might take to reporting here and to have those that work those specific areas do some corrections, report back, and the next time we travel it after the tiles are updated, report on how close it is.


I added the HOT lanes based on the very poor cartoonish maps that are on 495expresslanes.com plus a lot of guesswork. I'd be shocked if most of the lanes line up with the actual locations. I don't have and EZ-Pass to drive them myself so I can't do any more without updated aerials, newer gps layer or help and feedback from the people that actually use these lanes. So, thanks for the feedback, I moved the Braddock Rd exit ramp to generate the exit prompt much earlier. If you, or anybody else, wants segments unlocked so you can move the lanes to match up with your personal gps traces just post here or in the unlock forum.
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Re: 495 Express Lanes

Postby mysticcobra » Thu Dec 06, 2012 3:54 pm

I had a similar thing happen to me the other day. I was going from Springfield to Fairfax via 495N headed to I-66W. Waze told me to take 495N-regular which I did. Then, due to a building delay at the I-66 interchange, told me to get off onto Gallows Rd and then get back onto 495N-Express as the express ramp to 66 W would put me just past the construction backup.
What other GPS is smart enough to do this?
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Re: 495 Express Lanes

Postby wpegues » Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:41 pm

Back in the early summer and last winter when the lane closures on 495 would start around 9pm, Waze would do suggest alternates and send me off on local roads to avoid a construction slow down. Sometimes it knew about it, sometimes it did not, but it was great when it knew about it. Even using the back roads it was faster getting home.

The first time it happened, I ignored it, thought it was some kind of anomaly. Got stuck bad. After that I would follow its suggestion 100%. And I would always check by zooming around on the map to look for wazer reports of slows or construction and just go on those if Waze was not providing an alternate. Its usually about a 27 minute drive, but those construction slows, or even ramp closures, could turn it into an hour easily. Not good when its 10:30pm starting out.
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Re: 495 Express Lanes

Postby wpegues » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:01 pm

Mike-1323 wrote:I added the HOT lanes based on the very poor cartoonish maps that are on 495expresslanes.com plus a lot of guesswork. I'd be shocked if most of the lanes line up with the actual locations. I don't have and EZ-Pass to drive them myself so I can't do any more without updated aerials, newer gps layer or help and feedback from the people that actually use these lanes. So, thanks for the feedback, I moved the Braddock Rd exit ramp to generate the exit prompt much earlier. If you, or anybody else, wants segments unlocked so you can move the lanes to match up with your personal gps traces just post here or in the unlock forum.


After I get back next week I will drive some of these and see how they align with Waze directions. If they can be put in the 'good enough' mode that might get us through to the next update of aerial backgrounds. And if it turns out to be awhile, we can work out the worst ones.

I do think the navigation is really great in that there has been for me (so far) no gps confusion as to what lane system I am in. And ghost red lined backups or not, the gps navigation around that was highly creative as well as accurate - it was even simple, though I could see that the 'red' back up was invalid and did not take it.

Idea on the red backup. It may have been some confusion at server level assigning it red. The actual backup was on the ramp from east bound 267 to north bound 495. They were just creeping. Though that ramp and the one to south bound HOT lanes are really close and parallel the map shows them separating more. Maybe it was some confusion with the system that assigns the backups at the server end putting it on the wrong ramp. They had the actual backed up ramp listed in yellow.
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