HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Soon you’ll have to pay $50 for running a red light to get onto the Hampton Roads-Bridge Tunnel during peak traffic times.
Hampton City Council voted unanimously Wednesday night on an ordinance for the new cameras, the latest step in the city’s effort to prevent downtown gridlock caused by drivers trying to get onto eastbound I-64 from Settlers Landing Road near Hampton University and the Mallory Street bridge near Phoebus.
For example, some drivers will get off I-64 through the offramp at the Mallory Street Bridge and cut through the bridge’s intersection just to get back on the interstate and skip about 300 feet of traffic, Hampton Public Works Director Jason Mitchell said.
Mitchell talked about the proposed new cameras Jan. 11 during the council work session. He says the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission have indicated they’ll provide the roughly $1.1 million needed for the project, with an expected five-year commitment.
One would be at Settlers Landing Road at William Harvey Way right before the eastbound ramp onto I-64. Mitchell says there would be clear instructions warning drivers of the upcoming red light on Settlers Landing and where they should turn:
- Traffic in the left lane will go toward Woodland Road and the Phoebus area
- The right lane would go toward Hampton University and the Hampton VA
- The middle lane would typically allow traffic onto I-64 East, but during the worst traffic hours (3-6 p.m.) the light would remain red, meaning no one can go onto the interstate.
The city is also wants cameras on both sides of the Mallory Street Bridge, one of which has had a police officer enforcing a 3-6 p.m. closure Monday-Friday since April 2022 as part of a pilot program (the new camera would allow the officer to be moved to other duties, city officials say). Mitchell said that the program has cut down congestion in the Phoebus area by 52%.
The city is also looking into the possibility of putting red light cameras in other areas where they may be needed (school zones, other places with gridlock, etc.). With that five-year commitment, Mitchell said the HRBT cameras would later be repurposed in those areas (at last check, the HRBT expansion is expected to wrap up around fall 2025).
If someone does run a red at the camera, they’d get a fine of no more than $50. It won’t be a moving violation or go on anyone’s record, and a law enforcement officer would have to manually review each case under Virginia law, City Attorney Cheran Cordell Ivery says.
Hampton has also requested, in its 2023 legislative agenda through Sen. Mamie Locke (D-District 2), that the General Assembly allow “enhanced” red light violations for “blocking the box” at areas deemed by council to be “negatively impacted by traffic due to the HRBT construction.” Those enhanced measures would end in 2027 or when the HRBT expansion is complete, whichever is first, Ivery said.
Currently, Virginia law only allows red light camera enforcement for drivers who run a red light and for those who turn red on red when there’s signage present. There must be “conspicuous signs within 500 feet of the intersection approach at which a traffic light signal violation monitoring system is used,” Virginia law reads.
Mitchell said the Settlers Landing Road for example will have an overhead sign ahead of the Hampton Harbor Apartments to let drivers know, and overall there needs to be “lots of signage” to tell drivers where they need to go.
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