CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on I-64 during rush hour is almost inevitable, especially near the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel.
But what if there was a way to dodge the traffic jams? Michael Kimbrel with the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization says that’s the concept of a new proposal, all for a price.
“I don’t think we’re ever going to have enough money to build our way out of congestion, so another alternative then is to manage the transportation system better, and one way to do that is with these managed lanes, it’s a way to provide everyone with an option to have a reliable trip,” Kimbrel said.
Kimbrel says the proposal would create a managed lanes network through the 45-mile stretch of I-64 from Bowers Hill in Chesapeake to the Jefferson Avenue exit in Newport News.
The idea is to convert existing HOV lanes into HOT lanes that would connect to HOT lanes included in the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel and High Rise Bridge projects to form a network of express lanes.
HOV vehicles could use the HOT lane without paying a toll.
“You have the option, you can either sit in the traffic or pay a little toll if you’re a single occupant vehicle and get through at least 45 miles per hour,” Kimbrel explained.
Kimbrel believes this will help clear up those traffic nightmares.
“They’re going to manage the tolls to keep the traffic going at least 45 miles per hour, so as traffic speeds start to slow down because you’re getting a lot more people using the lane, they increase the toll a little bit so it dissuades some people from using the lane,” Kimbrel stated.
Kimbrel says the tolls will be different than those HOT lanes in Northern Virginia.
“We don’t think its going to get very high, certainly not as high as they’ve been experiencing in Northern Virginia, our traffic is much different here than up there,” he said.
He says based on a study, this new HOT lane could cut your commute around the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel by more than half.
Kimbrel says the proposal also calls for HOT-2 shoulder lanes adjacent to the reversible HOT lanes between I-564 and I-264 to make this a two way operation.
Right now this is in the beginning stages and Kimbrel says they haven’t decided how much and where each toll would be.
“There’s a connection to the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel project because by December the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission needs to sign a master tolling agreement that is part of the funding plan for the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel project. For part of that tolling agreement, they need to know whether we’re going to have a HOT lanes network,” Kimbrel said.
If everything continues to move forward, the new system could be phased in by 2025.