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Analyzing and Mitigating Impact of Tolls at MTT and DTT (Part I)

Analyzing and Mitigating Impact of Tolls at MTT and DTT (Part I)

Goals of this study were to analyze “before” and “after" traffic and transit conditions resulting from tolling at the Midtown & Downtown tunnels, gain insight to toll sensitivity in the region, and to develop congestion mitigation strategies for impacted corridors.  Tolling began on February 1, 2014 at $1 during peak hours for passenger cars and $4 for trucks with E-ZPass. 

Part I of this study includes a “before” and “after” peak period traffic queue analysis of key roadways using travel runs to determine where traffic queues improved and/or worsened.  For this analysis, HRTPO staff performed one to four in-vehicle travel runs, collecting photos and videos along study area roadways during the morning and afternoon rush hours “before” (Fall 2012 & Fall 2013) and “after” (Fall 2014) toll implementation.  From all of the travel runs, staff selected one run for each roadway approach that best represented typical congestion patterns to determine traffic queues (distance from the back of the traffic queue to the bridge/tunnel entrance) and queue clearance times (time to travel from the back of the traffic queue to the bridge/tunnel exit).  Some travel runs were omitted due to non-recurring causes of congestion, such as traffic incidents and broken down vehicles along bridges/tunnels.  The goal was to capture “recurring” traffic congestion—congestion experienced by commuters every day.

Weekday transit ridership along study area routes “before” and “after” toll implementation remained relatively constant after tolling began, however, increased significantly for some routes after service times and frequencies were improved in July 2014.  This analysis revealed that expansion of transit availability and service times has a greater impact on ridership than tolling.

Summary of Part I findings:

  • Peak Period Traffic Queues improved but did not go away for nearly all Midtown and Downtown tunnel approaches.
  • Peak Period Traffic Queues for Alternate Routes worsened.
    • I-64/High Rise Bridge (AM and PM)
    • Military Hwy (PM)
    • George Washington Hwy (PM)
    • Jordan Bridge (AM)
    • Transit Ridership remained relatively constant after tolling began and increased only after service improvements (July 2014) 

Staff plans to present the Part II draft results—traffic volumes (including trucks) and INRIX segment travel times/speeds—at the Transportation Technical Advisory Committee (TTAC) meeting on February 4th.

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