ERT reports drop in traffic at Downtown, Midtown tunnels

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by 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on February 3, 2014 at 6:39 AM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 4 at 5:24 PM

UPDATE 2/4:  Following the first full weekday of tolling at the Elizabeth River Tunnels on Monday, it's reported 64,598 vehicles used the Downtown Tunnel and 32,046 used the Midtown Tunnel, which is about 25 percent lower than usual.

The level of diversion -- drivers who choose alternate routes or reduced their trips -- is in line with ERC’s initial expectations. Diversion is common with toll projects and ERC expects traffic to slowly return to the Downtown and Midtown tunnels.

Traffic numbers for both facilities show that over 60 percent of all trips taken through the Downtown and Midtown tunnels were made by vehicles equipped with an E-ZPass transponder.

“We are very pleased with the E-ZPass distribution we have seen so far. We continue to encourage all motorists using the Downtown and Midtown tunnels to obtain an E-ZPass as it’s the least expensive way to travel through the Elizabeth River Tunnels,” said Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC) CEO, Greg Woodsmall.

UPDATE 2/3 4 p.m.:  VDOT spokesman Marshall Hermann says data was analyzed from peak hours Monday morning- 5 to 9 a.m. VDOT took data from February 3 and compared it to Monday, January 13, the last normal Monday, when no snow storm or holiday impacted travel.

Preliminary data showed:

Roadway sensors and counters measured the Gilmerton Bridge experienced a 57 percent increase in traffic.

Traffic at the Downtown Tunnel decreased by 22 percent.

Midtown Tunnel numbers won't come in until late Monday night.

Hampton Roads Bridge–Tunnel and Monitor–Merrimac Memorial Bridge–Tunnel are consistent with pre-toll numbers.

There was congestion on the High Rise Bridge due to two traffic crashes Monday morning.

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PORTSMOUTH-It's the first day of the work week and third day of drivers paying tolls at the Midtown and Downtown tunnels and the Martin Luther King extension.

Tolls began February 1.

They're collected electronically, either by E-ZPass, Pay by Plate or, if you haven't signed up, cameras snap a photo of your unregistered license plate and you get a bill in the mail.

Peak hours during the week are 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m and 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. That's when E-Z Pass holders in passenger cars will pay $1.00 each way.

Off-peak, which is all other times, weekends and holidays, the charge is $.75.

VDOT said Friday that 78,930 E-ZPass transponders had been distributed since Nov 1.

Evette Copeland waited until the last moment to get her E-ZPass. 

"I really have a lot on my plate as far as paying this and that and now this has added to the plate, but hey I gotta do what I have to do," she said.

Portsmouth Police advise drivers that if your E-ZPass transponder is stolen, report it immediately to the service center where you bought it so the device can be turned off. Until it's deactivated, the thief could use whatever balance is left for tolls and rack up additional charges.

 

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