TYSONS CORNER, Va. (CBSDC) — A very special and jolly VIP is the first person to take a drive on the recently completed 495 Express Lanes in Virginia.

Santa Claus hopped in a white convertible on a chilly Friday morning and took a ride on the hybrid toll and high-occupancy vehicle strip that aims to significantly ease traffic on the Capital Beltway.

Officials estimate the lanes will open to the public around 2 a.m. Saturday after nearly a decade of planning and construction.

Drivers will need and EZ-Pass to access the 14-mile strip of road where the average toll during rush hour is expected to be $3 to $6. Cars with three or more passengers will be exempt from the tolls.

Transportation officials say without the toll lanes, that section of the Beltway would be gridlocked for 12 hours a day within 20 years. The project is expected to reduce congestion to five hours a day.

WNEW’s John Domen contributed to this report. Follow him on Twitter.

All-News 99.1 WNEW provides first traffic every 10 minutes on the 1’s. Check traffic cameras on your route before heading out on the road.


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