VDOT testing I-64 Express Lanes tolling signs on Wednesday

Equipment for the new express lanes on I-64 is up but there are still some uncertainties in the timeline to launch.

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — HOV drivers shouldn’t worry when they see toll messaging on the I-64 Express Lanes on Wednesday.

The optional toll lanes in an 8.4-mile stretch between the I-564 Interchange to the I-264 Interchange aren’t expected to open for solo drivers until Wednesday, Jan. 10, but VDOT says it will test out the tolling system ahead of time on Wednesday, Jan. 3.

HOV drivers who use the lanes will see a rate displayed on the toll signs, but will not be charged.

The testing of the tolls will happen twice on Wednesday — from 8:30 a.m.- 9 a.m. and from 1:30 p.m. – 2 p.m.

On Jan. 10, the lanes will be converted from the usually HOV-only lanes during rush hour times of 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. westbound and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. eastbound Monday through Friday.

All drivers who want to use the tolled lanes should have a registered E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex transponder.

The Flex gives HOV drivers the ability to ride for free.

“As a carpooler, you’ll need it turned to HOV mode and slide that bar into the on position. that will allow you to travel for free,” said Paula Miller, a spokeswoman for VDOT.

VDOT estimates the express lanes will decrease traffic in the parallel untolled lanes of I-64 by 17 percent. Officials said the HOV lanes are underused.

“We can’t pave our way out of congestion,” said Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne. “We want travelers to get the most out of the highway space we have available, and our data shows that the current HOV lanes aren’t the best way to do that in Hampton Roads. The 64 Express Lanes will offer solo drivers the choice to use the lanes, while still encouraging carpooling.”

Drivers with an existing Virginia EZ Pass can exchange it for a Flex for free — just visit http://www.ezpassva.com for more info.

You can find general information about the 64 Express Lanes and a list of Frequently Asked Questions by visiting http://www.64ExpressLanes.org.