Hampton Roads: the cul de sac of Virginia

A copy of the Hampton Roads map with a ring of fire engulfing the region has circulated around city halls and in the community. (City of Norfolk staff)

The reality of the tolls being used to fund transportation projects in Hampton Roads is starting to hit home: A two-part series in The Virginian Pilot (1, 2), protests in Portsmouth, letters to the editor (one of the best of which was in today’s paper and is not yet available online).

Hampton Roads, particularly the Southside, is in real danger of being cut off from the rest of the state. And the localities from each other.

I’m old enough to remember the tolls on the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. If memory serves, they were $1.25 per car plus $.20 per occupant. In our 1966 Chevrolet station wagon, there was a space between the second and third (rear-facing) seat which was my spot in the car. I recall lying down in the space to try to avoid being counted. I guess saving 20 cents was a big deal – when we had a total of 10 people in the car.

But we didn’t cross that tunnel often. Even after the tolls came off, it took years for people on the Peninsula to regularly make the trek to the Southside.

But that has changed. As I outlined in an earlier article,  the Hampton Roads localities are now quite interdependent. So that makes the coming tolls even more onerous.

It’s going to be ugly. And it’s going to suck a lot of resources out the Hampton Roads economy.

UPDATE: Here’s the LTE I mentioned above.

8 thoughts on “Hampton Roads: the cul de sac of Virginia

  1. My big issue with the tolls are that there is not option where you do not have to pay a toll. Every one knows a lot of people that live paycheck to paycheck. Many people work on one side and live on the other. So what if you can’t pay the toll to go to work. Also it is not as easy as just getting a job on the side you live on. Just ask the people at Jfcom, Symmetric, Ford or recent NASA layoffs how easy it is to find a job in this region anywhere. Every friend that I had at Symmetric when it closed had to move from this area.

    My point being is that there ought to be a free option even if it takes more time and effort. When I lived in Atlanta they were opening a toll road and everyone said no one would pay to use the road. They were wrong the people who could not afford to pay stayed on the main road and the toll road was faster due to the toll but was of course still busy but it was not like sitting in a parking lot most the time. I don’t know if the road is still a toll road as I am sure it was paid for a long time ago. But adding that road did not stop people who can’t afford the toll from being able to get to their job as this plan does.

  2. A possible danger here though is the hypothetical case of the toll road being stopped and nothing being done. I hate the tolls but i wonder, politically speaking, if thers is any alternative that has the slightist chance of getting thru the General Assembley.

    1. No plan is better than this plan. While I agree that it would be a long shot for the GA to do something bright, for a change, at some point the electorate will get fed up and toss them.

  3. The gas tax increase has made sense all along but the gutless wonders in Richmond couldn’t do the right thing.

    This isn’t the state of Hampton Roads, it is part of Virginia and the General Assembly needs to look at the big picture – and of course the current clowns are incapable of that…

    For years, years after the roads was paid for, I paid the 25 cents toll on what was Route 44- It took Clancy Holland to get the toll dropped.

    I am not sure who the “representatives” and Governor are representing but it is not most Virginians.

  4. Ahh, the Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA), how long are the private leases on these facilities? I think the HOT lanes on 495 in NoVA are on an 80 year lease. But I wonder if not for the PPTA, would we be adding much new capacity in the major urban areas of Virginia?

    Is public transportation a viable alternative in the region? And would this allow people to bypass the toll? That would seem like the easiest and best solution to help people who could not otherwise afford the additional burden of tolls on their income.

  5. As a newcomer to Hampton Roads, this region leaves me with the impression that it can’t do anything right. I have lived in many regions and the driving habits here are the 2nd worst. There doesn’t appear to be any police presence. Motorists don’t properly maintain their vehicles. The roads are in awful disrepair. Residents themselves probably should have demanded bike paths, and communities in which businesses, recreation, retail and work were all within the same zone. Instead, this whole region is a low density, car addicted disgrace. The strip shopping center complexes near Jefferson in Newport News, Military Highway in Norfolk, and Hilltop in Virginia Beach should be sources of embarrasment for all who call this place home. I haven’t seen any strip shopping center complexes in Chesapeake, but I am sure that they exist. I don’t think that I am missing anything.
    Tidewater residents need to face their responsibilities as motorists. $1.50-$2.00/gallon is what would really be required to properly maintain our roads.

Comments are closed.