HAMPTON, Va. – Traffic backups can typically be seen for miles during rush hour heading toward the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. Construction on that stretch doesn’t help.
Hampton resident Carolyn Thomas drives on the HRBT every day to get to work in Norfolk.
“I think it’s frustrating,” she said. “It’s a lot, but you have to deal with it. I have to wake up an hour in advance to get to work on time.”
Commute times could get worse as construction picks up steam. Hampton city leaders, however, might have a fix to ease the jams on city streets and eastbound I-64.
Wednesday night, council members agreed to move forward with one of the proposed pilot projects surrounding Mallory Street.
In April and May, the Mallory Street Bridge will only be used for one-way traffic from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. during the week.
Drivers would have to go westbound I-64, and this wouldn’t apply to first responders.
“That’s cutting off another way for traffic to flow, so I feel like that’s not really a good idea,” said Dylan Johnson, who drives on the highway to go to Hampton University.
“I think it will probably make the traffic even more congested because people are going to have to find different ways to go around,” she said.
William Sowers, who’s lived in Phoebus all his life, says the trial run could be a good thing, adding people can use the Settler’s Landing Road exit, which could bring more people to Phoebus’ main street.
“We try to look at it on the positive view that it’s exposing a lot of people that wouldn’t normally be exposed to our little town,” Sowers said.
Sowers believes the added traffic could help expose businesses including Fox Tail Wine Bar on E. Mellen Street. However, restaurant co-owner Christopher Fox is skeptical.
“In my humble opinion, I think it’s hurt us a little bit,” said Fox. “I feel like it’s the same people that are going back and forth, not necessarily new people.”
Many businesses in the heart of Phoebus were in favor of another proposal the council initially agreed on a few months back but then changed their minds. It would have temporarily closed the two eastbound ramps at Mallory Street and Settlers Landing Road.
Fox, however, remains hopeful.
“I guess only time will tell,” he said.
During Wednesday’s council meeting, city leaders said the eastbound ramp closures would have caused more backups on the interstate. They felt the Mallory Street Bridge pilot program was a better option. The city will test it out for 60 days.
Hampton Police will be stationed at the bridge just before the westbound I-64 exit.
City council members said they will discuss how to ease traffic jams on Settlers Landing Road and the downtown area at a future meeting.