By Alex DeMetrick

WHITE MARSH, Md. (WJZ) — An easier commute, provided you pay. That’s the tradeoff for new express toll lanes about to open along an eight-mile stretch of I-95.

Alex DeMetrick has a preview of the cost and potential convenience.

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The cost was considerable: over a billion dollars was spent to add four new lanes to the middle of the eight lanes already operating between White Marsh and Baltimore on I-95.

Open and empty. Two lanes north, two lanes south. The new express toll lanes on I-95 leading into Baltimore. It’s an eight mile stretch.

The first trips will be free—from the December 6 opening through December 12, the express lanes will operate without charge. After that, peak hours one way will cost $1.70. Off-peak will be $1.40 and overnight, 70 cents will be the toll—but only if EZ-Pass is used.

Cameras will catch cars without EZ-Pass and bill drivers more. The state says it needs the tolls to help pay for the billion dollar project.

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“Capital infrastructure. It’s part of the tolling plan as to how we were able to deliver the project,” said MdTA Dep. Exec. Sec. Deb Sharpless.

While the centerpiece is the toll lanes, new overpasses, interchanges and bridges will serve all 95 drivers.

“Now we have what we call fully directional high speed movements. Exits off the right, which are more traditional than what we had in the early 60s, which were left movements,” said Dave Labella, the project manager.

And movement is the selling point. The state is betting drivers will pay a toll to skip eight miles of the usual commute in and out of Baltimore.

Drive the express lanes without EZ-Pass, the toll rates are more than double: up to $2.75 during peak hours.

This is Maryland’s second toll road. The other is Route 200, or the Intercounty Connector.

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