Traffic volumes decreased significantly in Hampton Roads as COVID-19 continued to spread across Virginia, Governor Northam enacted a stay-at-home order, and all non-essential businesses across the Commonwealth were closed. Although the stay-at-home order remains in effect, roadway travel has been increasing in Hampton Roads according to estimates produced by Streetlight Data based on anonymous information collected largely from smart phones. The amount of roadway travel in Hampton Roads in terms of Vehicle-Miles Traveled (VMT) was 448,798,000 miles during the first week of March (March 1-7). Volumes in the region decreased sharply throughout March as COVID-19 restrictions were put into place, reaching a low of 125,544,900 vehicle-miles traveled during the first week of April (April 5-11). However, volumes increased each week throughout the remainder of April, up to 154,677,500 miles (+23%) during the week of April 26th. Overall, volumes during the week of April 26th remain 66% below the level seen in Hampton Roads during the week of March 1st.
The changes in roadway travel related to COVID-19 are not unique to Hampton Roads. Although volumes have increased at a slightly faster pace in Hampton Roads than throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, roadway travel levels have increased more throughout the United States. Roadway travel in the United States increased 39% from the week of April 5th to the week of April 26th, as compared to 21% increases in Virginia and 23% in Hampton Roads during this time period.
The results are mixed when looking at the travel impacts of COVID-19 in select metropolitan areas that are comparable to Hampton Roads. While roadway travel increased by 23% in Hampton Roads between the week of April 5th and the week of April 26th, the increases were lower in the Richmond (17%) and Baltimore (21%) areas, but higher in the Raleigh (29%) and Charlotte (32%) areas. Looking at the changes in roadway travel from the first week of March to the week of April 26th, the change in Hampton Roads (66% decrease) is comparable to the Richmond (66%) and Raleigh (68%) areas, remains much lower than the Baltimore area (75%), but is higher than the Charlotte area (62%).
HRTPO staff will continue to monitor the impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has on the regional transportation system.