Virginia HOT lanes lost $11M in first 6 weeks of operation

A transportation upgrade that Virginia officials had hoped would be a cash-cow is starting to lose money.

As first reported in The Washington Examiner, the HOT lanes lost $11.3 million in its first six weeks of operation.

Drivers who don't used the 495 Express Lanes have their reasons.

"Why spend the money if I can get around it the normal route?," asked one driver.

But some motorists enjoy using the new route.

"I live and breath for the HOT lanes. It has saved my life," driver Sheri Page laughed. "I'm telling you 20 to 25 minutes off my commute. It's crazy."

While the project brought in a million dollars in tolls and fees, depreciation, financing and operating costs pushed the deficit much higher.

"Traffic is a little bit below expectations, which is natural for a infrastructure project like this," explained Transurban's Peirce Coffee.

Transurban is the company operating the project. Coffee says the so-called ramp up period could take months or even years.

Coffee added, "...this project will eventually pay back the construction costs and eventually be making money."

Page too is hopeful, adding, "I think it will catch on. It's just gonna take some time."

The rates on the HOT lanes adjust according to traffic. If traffic is up, the price goes down. The lowest price so far has been 35 cents.