664 tolls to be studied
Published 9:57 pm Thursday, June 20, 2013
The Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization voted Thursday to support a feasibility study for rush-hour tolls on the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel and the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel.
Also at the meeting, members discussed the region’s six-year transportation plan, updated by the Commonwealth Transportation Board on Wednesday.
The tolls on the two crossings would provide a short-term solution to congestion at the tunnels that happens routinely during rush hour, members said.
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“It buys us some time,” said Williamsburg Mayor Clyde Haulman. “They have a choice whether to pay the toll or not pay the toll. I don’t see any downsides of going this direction.”
The study also would provide data that can be used to make decisions about what to do with the crossings in the long term, according to the resolution.
“All of these large projects are going to have to have some kind of revenue stream,” said Aubrey Layne Jr., the Hampton Roads representative on the Commonwealth Transportation Board.
Suffolk’s representatives on the HRTPO board — City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn, Mayor Linda T. Johnson and Vice Mayor Charles Brown — made no comments in the discussion about tolls.
Regarding the six-year plan, Layne said he believes Hampton Roads is getting its fair share and more of the available money. The latest update added $45 million to the region for a total of $2.7 billion during the six-year period.
However, the edits do not provide any additional money to Suffolk’s Route 58 widening project. Layne said it is likely Route 58 would not see any additional money until the new Route 460 gets closer to being built.
The Route 58 widening is estimated to cost $69 million, according to the six-year plan. Only $28 million has been previously allocated.
Construction on the Route 460 project — a 55-mile toll road between Suffolk and Petersburg that would cost as much as $11.72 to travel beginning in 2018 — is set to begin around the end of 2014 or the beginning of 2015, Layne said. The government will begin taking land needed for the project in the next six months or so.
Construction is set to be completed in 2017, Layne added. Because the middle of the road will be built first, Suffolk likely will not see construction action until later in the process.
The HRTPO also voted to approve the Patriot’s Crossing project as its preferred alternative to widening the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. The crossing would connect Route 164 in Portsmouth, as well as Interstate 564 in Norfolk, via a tunnel and bridge and meet up with Interstate 664 at the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel in the middle of the river.