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Virginia Interstate Widening Would Convert Free Lanes to Toll Lanes

The Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization is proposing a 45-mile network of high-occupancy toll lanes on I–64 that includes conversions of 16 miles of carpool and three miles of general-purpose lanes. No unpriced lanes would be added.
September 30, 2019, 11am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"State and regional officials are proposing a 45-mile network of toll lanes for drivers who want to avoid traffic jams on Interstate 64" from Newport News to Chesapeake in the Hampton Roads region of southeastern Virginia, reports Dave Ress of the Daily Press.

The aim is to have the system in place by 2025, with the opening of the additional Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel [HRBT] tubes and causeways carrying a total of four lanes.

The high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes serve as carpool lanes for vehicles with two or more occupants. Unlike high occupancy vehicle lanes, though, they allow single-occupant vehicles access as well, charging a variable toll that increases with the level of congestion, aka congestion pricing. The Federal Highway Administration requires these "'HOV+' facilities" to maintain a minimum speed of 45 mph regardless of the level of congestion.

HOT lanes are already operating on the reversible lanes in Norfolk between I-564 and I-264 [known as 64 Express Lanes] and are planned for some of the new HRBT lanes and approaches.

Planning for the widening is being done by the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization (HRTPO), the metropolitan planning organization for the nine cities and four counties that comprise the Hampton Roads region in southeastern Virginia, in a coordinated effort with the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission (HRTAC) and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), according to an email from Michael S. Kimbrel, HRTPO's deputy executive director.

No new free lane additions

 "[T]o my knowledge, this would be the first time that general-purpose [GP] lanes in Hampton Roads would be converted to managed lanes," Kimbrel wrote. However, due to the existing road configuration which goes from three to two GP lanes, the conversion of the outer GP lane "will allow a smoother transition" to the new four-lane configuration: "2 GP and 2 HOT lanes (1 HOT and 1 part-time HOT in each direction)."

"Commonwealth Transportation Board member W. Sheppard Miller III, a business owner from Norfolk, said he was pleased that the new plan would convert only [a] small stretch of currently free lanes to HOT traffic, referring to the stretch around LaSalle [Ave. in Hampton], where the planned widening of the highway would allow two HOT and two free lanes where traffic now moves on three lanes," adds Ress.

"Considering the HOV lanes would be turned into HOT lanes, there aren't many sections of roadway that would need construction," reports WTKR (article and newscast).

For more details, including maps, see the I-64 Express Lanes Concept 2040 Analysis [pdf]

TV coverage: News articles with video reports by WAVY and WTKR on HOT lane proposal, Sept. 23.

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Published on Sunday, September 22, 2019 in The Virginian-Pilot
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