Virginia studies toll options for I-64 from Richmond to Hampton

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 11/12/2012

The Virginia Department of Transportation is studying whether to toll some or all of the lanes on Interstate 64 between Richmond and Hampton to pay for widening the corridor. Truckers can sound off on the proposal during three scheduled hearings in December or in writing through Jan. 7, 2013.

VDOT has put forward three alternatives for the proposal, starting with a “no build” alternative. The other two alternatives involve tolls – one that would toll all lanes of traffic in both directions, and one that would toll only the new lanes being added.

Specifically, the agency is studying 75 miles of I-64 from I-95 in Richmond to I-664 in Hampton. The cost would be at least $4 billion, up to $7 billion according to reports.

The agency has scheduled three public hearings, with each scheduled to last from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dates and locations are as follows:

Dec. 11, Bruton High School, 185 Rochambeau Drive, Williamsburg;
Dec. 12, City Center Conference Room, Fountain Plaza II, 700 Town Center Drive, Newport News; and
Dec. 13, VDOT Central Office Auditorium, 1221 E. Broad St., Richmond.

VDOT says it does not have the money to do a large-scale widening project without tolls as an option. Tolling an interstate highway requires permission from the Federal Highway Administration, and Virginia does not have approval for I-64.

The commonwealth does have preliminary tolling authority for I-95, however, joining Missouri’s I-70 and North Carolina’s I-95 in a three-state pilot program of federally approved candidates for tolling. To date, no state has gone all the way to toll an interstate that was built toll-free.

In related news involving Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell recently contracted with a private operator to build a new 55-mile toll road parallel to U.S. 460 from Petersburg to Suffolk.

Once the U.S. 460 project is completed, and if I-64 is widened as a toll road, it would mean two direct routes from Richmond and the port region would be tolled.

Once tolls are put into place, VDOT expects some amount of traffic to divert to toll-free alternatives. The existing U.S. 460 will remain open and toll-free after the tolled portion opens, the agency says.

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