HAMPTON/NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — As the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel expansion project continues, 10 On Your Side is learning more about the express and HOV lanes that will make up some of its lanes.
The $4 billion bill is primarily funded by the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability
Commission, or HRTAC. However, there is a percentage being paid for by express lanes.
Currently, the I-64 Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) is one of the most congested roadways in the region. An estimated 100,000 vehicles cross the bridge-tunnel during peak summer traffic.
The current eastbound HRBT tube will be converted to carry westbound traffic and the new HRBT tubes will carry eastbound traffic. Two lanes going in each direction will be free general-purpose lanes. Two additional lanes, one lane and one driveable shoulder, will be variably priced toll lanes or “Express Lanes”.
These lanes will be considered part of the HREL, also known as the Hampton Roads Express Lanes. When all is said and done, HREL will run the length of Interstate 64 in both directions from Jefferson Avenue to the Bowers Hill Interchange. That includes the HRBT’s newest lanes.
“The Hampton Roads Expressway, those tolls go to the maintenance cost and operating cost of the system and to pay back construction costs as well as generate additional projects to address congestion,” explained David Caudill, VDOT’s director of tolling operations.
So, how much will the tolls cost? Caudill said it’s based on volume and speed.
“For HREL, it’s real-time measurements on the roadway. We have sensors every quarter mile that know your speed and traffic volume,” he explained. “That data is entered into our algorithm and that’s the toll amount that a non-HOV (high occupancy vehicle), or solo driver, would pay to cross as a solo driver.”
It’s common to hear the words “toll” and instantly clutch your wallet, but Caudill reiterates that using the Express Lane will always be an option, the tolled lane on the HRBT is not required to use to cross. Instead, it’s a free chance for HOV drivers to bypass traffic of non-tolled lanes or a quick way to keep moving for solo drivers wanting to pay it.
“The HOV driver has free access to the Express Lanes, so there’s always a choice. And it’s HOV 2+ so you only need one other person.
“There’s always a choice. The general lanes are there at no cost. If you need to be somewhere at a certain time, it may be worth your time to pay the toll.”
The project’s anticipated completion date was November 2025. In a recent meeting, 10 On Your Side learned the project is now expected to wrap up later than the fall of 2025.
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