NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Tolling has begun on an eight-mile stretch of I-64, from the I-264 Interchange to I-564, but the Virginia Department of Transportation stresses the fast lanes are optional.
The lanes will only be tolled weekdays (Monday-Friday) from 5 a.m.- 9 a.m. westbound and 2 p.m.- 6 p.m. eastbound, but drivers can still opt to drive in the standard lanes at no cost.
Paula Miller, a VDOT spokeswoman, says there’s no cap for how high the rates can go. She says the cost will generally elevate as more people are on the roads. The fewer the cars, the lower the toll.
“That’s why the price will reset every 10 minutes based on the number of vehicles in the lanes at the time,” said Miller. On Wednesday morning she said VDOT opened the toll lanes at $0.50, the high point was $1.25 at 5:40 am. The average for the four hour span was $0.75 with traffic moving at 60 mph.
There will be two warning signs and two signs showing the current toll rate before drivers must commit to using the express lanes.
Once in the lane, the only people who will be tolled are drivers with no one else in the car. Vehicles with two or more occupants can ride in the express lanes for free, even during peak tolled hours, but they must have an E-ZPass Flex transponder.
The E-ZPass Flex acts as a traditional transponder for solo drivers but has a sliding switch that allows drivers to turn on the “HOV ON” feature. Miller says vehicles without an E-ZPass Flex transponder will be tolled regardless of the number of people in the vehicle during tolled hours.
The goal is to ease congestion by moving about two of every 10 cars into the fast lane, according to VDOT.
“If we can get some of that traffic out of the general purpose lanes and give people a more reliable travel time by putting them in the express lanes, they’ll have more choices,” said Miller. “They choose if they want to use the express lanes. “For the first time ever, solo motorists will be able to be in the express lanes legally if they have a transponder.”
Drivers can exchange their traditional E-ZPass transponder for an E-ZPass Flex for free at any customer service center.
VDOT has opened a temporary E-ZPass location at the Midtown Shopping Center in Wards Corner, 124 East Little Creek Road, next to the Book Exchange. It’s open from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday and noon-5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The same hours are in effect for the current E-ZPass centers on Church Street in Norfolk and on Victory Boulevard in Portsmouth.
VDOT has also launched a mobile app, 64 Express Lanes, which is free to download on all iOS and Android devices.
You can visit 64ExpressLanes.org for complete information.