NORFOLK, Va. - The I-64 Express Lanes are now open.
The lanes opened Wednesday at 5 a.m.
Residents in Hampton Roads now have a choice to use tolling lanes, compared to free general purpose lanes during peak travel times.
Between “operating hours” (5 a.m. – 9 a.m. westbound, and 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. eastbound, Monday through Friday), motorists will have to use an E-Z Pass or E-Z Pass Flex to access the 8.4-mile stretch of Reversible Roadway between the I-264 Interchange and I-564, according to VDOT.
VDOT did say though that outside of “operating hours,” lanes will remain free and open to all motorists. These “operating hours,” are peak hours the 64 Express Lanes will be used by motorists. Until now, the I-64 Reversible Roadway has been open to only HOV-2+ drivers during peak travel times.
“We can’t pave our way out of congestion,” said Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne. “We want travelers to get the most out of the highway space we have available.”
Dynamic tolling is the term used to describe this new “pay to drive” system. Price fluctuations are based on user demand and is designed to increase the number of people using the lanes while maintaining minimum speeds to provide a more reliable trip for travelers.
“Our data shows that the current HOV lanes aren’t the best way to do that in Hampton Roads. The I-64 Express Lanes will offer solo drivers the choice to use the lanes, while still encouraging carpooling,” added Secretary Layne.
During operating hours, motorists who wish to ride toll-free must meet the HOV-2+ (High Occupancy Vehicle) requirement and have an E-ZPass Flex transponder switched to “HOV ON”.
To pay the variable toll during operating hours, solo drivers may use a standard E-ZPass transponder or an E-ZPass Flex with “HOV ON” covered, said VDOT.
If there are two or more people in the car, but the vehicle doesn't have the new E-ZPass Flex, that car will be charged a toll since VDOT said there's no proving after the fact the vehicle was HOV.
If a driver misses a toll, they can go to 64ExpressLanes.com and pay the toll within five days.
VDOT’s hope is that the I-64 Express Lanes will provide more choices for travelers while increasing efficiency on roadways.
“We have been working to improve travel times and reliability for commuters in Hampton Roads,” said VDOT Commissioner Charles Kilpatrick. “The 64 Express Lanes will help us further that goal.”
VDOT is extending the hours of its E-ZPass Customer Service Centers at 1701 Church Street in Norfolk and 4010 Victory Boulevard, Portsmouth to help with the launch of the I-64 Express Lanes.
The Customer Service Centers will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday between January 2-5 and January 8-12. Weekend hours will remain noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Motorists interested in exchanging their standard E-ZPass transponder for an E-ZPass Flex may visit http://www.EZPassVA.com.