Drivers change routes to avoid tolls

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — With the tunnel tolls now in place, driving routes might change with some people saying they will avoid the tolls.

Transportation planners expect more drivers to use the High Rise and Gilmerton bridges in Chesapeake.

Data collected in the next months will show what kind of impact the new Downtown and Midtown tunnel tolls will have on the High Rise Bridge and the Gilmerton Bridge.

“I got options to go the High Rise, the Gilmerton or the tunnel,” explained Darius Perkins, who lives in Chesapeake.

Many others might find options that are similar to Perkins. All three optional routes get you to work around the same time. Now, the tunnel might be the last resort.

“I got the E-ZPass just for the option, in case I do have to go that route,” said Perkins. “But, I want to avoid it if all possible.”

Kevin Nash says he hasn’t bought his E-ZPass yet so, he too, will be avoiding the tolls.

“I have a box truck as a work truck and that’s like 12 miles to the gallon,” Nash said. “I guess I’d have to resort to the back roads. You know, with that truck, it’s going to kill me in gas.”

Perkins and Nash aren’t alone. Traffic on both the High Rise and Gilmerton bridges is expected to increase. The Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization thinks the tolls will bring 35,000 more vehicles to the High Rise Bridge per day.

Chesapeake’s Assistant Director of Public Works, Early Sorey, said drivers might notice a difference.

“The additional traffic will likely result in additional congestion, longer delays,” said Sorey. “I think what it will also do is underscore the need to replace the High Rise Bridge and to widen 64 on the Southside.”

Chesapeake City Council voted recently to support the future replacement of the High Rise Bridge. Sorey said the bridge is safe to drive on now, even with the projected increase in traffic. Sorey added that the bridge is inspected regularly.

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