495 Express Lanes

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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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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 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 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 » Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:17 pm

I agree Will. Let's just let them simmer for awhile. I think they are working well as they sit now. I still think it would be nice to add the features I mentioned previously (Default to choose a route whenever a toll road is quicker and add some footnote or other warning that the HOV/Express lanes require an EZPass (HOV-3 or TOLL) or a motorcycle.)

There's not much we can do about inattentive (I'm being polite here) drivers who don't read signs, are too busy doing other doings, slam on their brakes at the last second to swerve out of a lane and then cause a wreck. Wrecks don't happen by themselves. Wrecks happen when people run out of driving talent.
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Re: 495 Express Lanes

Postby wpegues » Wed Dec 05, 2012 3:56 am

Another thought, for this area, this HOT lane system is totally new. It is not directly comparable to the 395/95 HOV lanes historically. Lets consider to just respond to the problem reports fixing true errors, and just wait awhile. Give time for users of the hot lanes, and others, to become used to what they area - whether Wazers or not. There is a ton of confusion among the general public about them, there have been wrecks related to just getting on or avoiding getting on. I think that they, or the ramps TO them, be listed as toll. I don't like the idea of parking lot roads, that means the actual users of the hot lanes will always without exception not only never get advice about them, but also always get wrong directions about exiting even after they get on.

Lets see how the reports go when its been several months.

I'm not in the top 1% either, but I use them frequently when going to my fencing classes 3 evenings a week. My time is so closely cut that a major slow will make me late. Just after 7pm when I am entering the system its telling me its $1.50 to the far end and I go all the way to Braddock Road. So its miss part of my much more expensive class or be there on time for certain.

Here is a humorous item though - I took it one evening because I saw some markers on Waze about some slow downs. There was but it was so brief that the regular lanes ran faster and I never caught up to cars that were in the regular lanes parallel to me by the time I got to the end. The thing is that there are always police sitting out on the Hot lanes, often with someone pulled over. So the few cars using it can't risk running over 65. Meanwhile, the heavy traffic on the regular lanes is running 70+. Pay more, go slower -Grin! But when there are slow downs, it pays for itself easily.
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Re: 495 Express Lanes

Postby wpegues » Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:51 pm

Just as a comment, I have been driving both directions sometimes the Hot Lanes sometimes the regular 495 lanes on and off since they opened. I enter from the 267 ramps and exit at Braddock Road, so thats about the full length.

The directions for me seem appropriate. I do NOT have avoid tolls checked, and I DO have fastest checked. Sometimes Waze suggests the hot lanes, sometimes not (this since they were actually linked on the map).

I know there was talk about some concern that the roads were so close together that the gps might jump from hot to regular or back and forth or not position you accurately. I have never had that happen, and I have done the routs intentionally with the iPad positioned to be as close to the side of the side nearest the other lanes and driven in the closest lane. Its never jumped or rerouted.

Conceptually, I don't mind being told that for routing the hot lanes are faster. Its a choice. It would be nice if a 'flag' of some kind or color overlay of the routing turn indicated that the next junction was a toll.

The real problem is that the actual toll is very complex - its not necessarily a toll, if you have enough riders.

An interesting feature might be that if you had tolls as acceptable, would be to tap something that for just the upcoming junction onto a toll you could select 'no toll' and have it reroute. This would be a temporary override just for that junction.

I keep tolls selected as YES because I commute the 267 toll road every day, some days 2 round trips.
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Re: 495 Express Lanes

Postby mysticcobra » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:32 pm

Excellent idea!
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Re: 495 Express Lanes

Postby CBenson » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:02 pm

Mike-1323 wrote:Maybe only the entrance ramps (or the beginning sections of the ramp) should be marked toll. Then the avoid toll option will prevent toll road routing but HOV'ers will get recalculated routes that are accurate.

I agree that is the best solution. I think that was what shawndoc was proposing. It leaves the HOV'ers in no worse position than they would be if the road is marked parking lot.
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Re: 495 Express Lanes

Postby Mike-1323 » Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:53 pm

CBenson wrote:There was a bunch of generic discussion on the topic here: http://www.waze.com/forum/viewtopic.php ... s&start=40
I agree that marking them toll makes sense. If user's are complaining that they are being routed over the toll lanes, I don't see the problem with having them learn to check the avoid toll option.

That's my thoughts as well regarding the toll aspect of it. Unfortunately that breaks when the HOV side of it is used. An HOV commuter with avoid tolls selected will never be routed on the express lanes and if on the express lanes will never recalculate a correct route. In that case the exit info will be wrong along the route making Waze useless.

Maybe only the entrance ramps (or the beginning sections of the ramp) should be marked toll. Then the avoid toll option will prevent toll road routing but HOV'ers will get recalculated routes that are accurate.
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