The free rides are over for drivers using the MnPASS lanes on I-35E in the east metro.

Starting Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Transportation will charge solo drivers who have a MnPASS account and a tag and use the lanes during peak periods, the agency said.

Fees will be charged from 6 to 10 a.m. for southbound drivers using the HOT lane between County Road 96 and Cayuga Street, and from 3 to 7 p.m. for northbound drivers between Cayuga Street and Little Canada Road and County Road E to County Road J.

State troopers will be out to enforce the rules during peak periods, MnDOT says. Motorists caught using the MnPASS lanes during peak-travel times without at MnPASS tag are subject to a citation and a fine up to $200.

The MnPASS lanes are available to all drivers at no cost outside of peak hours.

The I-35E MnPASS lanes north of I-694 opened in December, but drivers with MnPASS tags have been able to use them for free because some of the tolling equipment and digital signs were not working.

"Thank you for your patience while we continued installing and testing the electrical equipment on the MnPASS price signs," the agency said in a statement. "We are happy to report most of the pricing and digital signs are operational."

Motorists who enroll in MnPASS by Tuesday - that is today - will receive a $15 toll credit by entering TAG$15 on their online application.  See mnpass.org for more information on how to sign up for an account.

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