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Drivers are avoiding new I-64 Express Lanes; more congestion reported in general lanes

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) -- Two weeks ago today, VDOT launched the 64 Express Lanes.

VDOT's goal was to provide more choices for travelers, create more efficiency and cut down on congestion.

Two weeks later, VDOT has newly released data, answering tough questions about morning rush hour congestion on regular general purpose I-64 lanes.

In order to drive for free in the morning and the afternoon you need an EZ-Pass Flex, and at least two people in the car.

You can trade your regular EZ-Pass in for the Flex pass. You can also for the first time drive alone in the reversible lanes and pay the toll, which VDOT says since January 10 averaged 85 cents during morning rush hour and a dollar during afternoon rush hour.

However, 10 On Your Side traffic reporter Jen Lewis has noticed during her morning traffic reports that the parking lot-like congestion on I-64 westbound in the non-express lanes is terrible.

Traffic appears to have gotten worse in those general use lanes, and we asked VDOT about that.

"We need to move people and give them more travel choices, and that's what the Express lanes are all about," said VDOT spokesperson Paula Miller.

When told that some people want VDOT to move them and not charge them at all, Miller responded, "those lanes were built with federal dollars. We could not convert them back to general purpose lanes unless we pay back the federal government."

VDOT thinks you have to give the project more time to succeed, it only began January 10.

10 On Your Side has received many comments from people like Eddie Jerardo. "It just seems to me it is really sticking it right to the military personnel," Jerardo said. "They are the ones who have to get to the base every morning, and that's where the traffic jam is really happening."

Miller says it makes sense. You don't have to wait in this type of traffic. The Flex pass makes it free, unlike tunnels, where there is nothing you can do to go through for free.

Construction worker Todd Clifton rides express every morning, but hasn't had an E-ZPass. He says he's getting one.

There's no waiting for him, "We are getting one today. My partner's wife is getting it today, but we are not sitting in that line, and we will go ahead and pay the toll."

As for the Express Lanes, Miller says 78 to 89 percent of all cars using the Express Lanes have EZ-Pass or EZ-Pass Flex.

You pay the rate you see on the toll sign when you first enter the Express Lanes.

Jerardo says, "I haven't seen or heard one military personnel I have spoken to who travels to the base who supports this, and what is going on with the HOV lane."

Miller says VDOT understands the number of military personnel going to the base during morning rush hour may go down by month's end. "We knew there were some additional carriers in port and that there may be some changes by the end of the month," Miller said.

For more info on the I-64 Express Lanes, click here.


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