HRBT Expansion #1 on CTB Action List
Wednesday, December 7th the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) had a full agenda before adjourning for the year. First on the list was proposed expansion of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, the oldest tunnel on I-64. And it was a quick unanimous vote. The Virginia Pilot quotes Secretary Aubrey Lane as saying: “Historic day for Hampton Roads and the state,” Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne said after the vote. “Congratulations.” (Read the resolution here http://www.ctb.virginia.gov/resources/2016/dec/Action_Agenda.pdf)
In other historic votes, both the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization (HRTPO) and the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission (HRTAC) voted unanimously to endorse Alternative A as identified in the draft SEIS with the addition of managed lanes. The managed lanes would consist of HOV3 lanes sharing access with Hampton Roads Transit (HRT). Transit managed lanes were not part of the original proposed alternative.
One of four alternative crossing project recommendations presented by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), Alternative A proposes to expand the current four lane HRBT to six lanes. The old lanes will be westbound, the newly constructed three lane bridge and tunnel eastbound. So technically, there would be 4 lanes with the old crossing. But the right of way on each side of the crossing is currently limited to six lanes. Superwide third lane? Breakdown lane? Still be to be determined.
HRTPO was originally scheduled to vote on the crossing study alternative at its November meeting. Input from the Army Corps of Engineers and Secretary of the Navy made alternative A the only one to pursue without further study and evaluation. The Army Corps of Engineers had a number of concerns: the major environmental impacts presented by alternatives C and D and lack of transit options, and tolls among others. While the Navy acknowledged all alternatives would alleviate congestion and contribute to military readiness, they felt alternatives B, C, and D would negatively impact Craney Island Fuel Depot. Delegate David Yancy (Newport News) pushed for the vote at the October 20 HRTPO Board meeting after recommending HOV3 lanes with transit access as part of the proposal. An HOV3 is a toll lane that requires a driver to have two or more additional occupants to avoid the fee. Current HOV lanes in use in the Hampton Roads area only require one additional passenger.
Appointed by the governor, the 17-member Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) establishes the administrative policies for Virginia’s transportation system. The CTB allocates highway funding to specific projects, locates routes and provides funding for airports, seaports and public transportation.