Transportation and traffic are perennial topics in Hampton Roads, a region laced with interstates and highways and dependent on a range of water crossings, from bridge-tunnels to drawbridges to ferries. The area also has two airports, rail transport and transit systems that include buses, a light-rail in Norfolk and ferries.
Roads, bridges and tunnels
The Virginia Department of Transportation maintains the region's highways, bridges and tunnels. To monitor traffic, visit VDOT's interactive website 511Virginia.org, call 511, or use the free VDOT 511 mobile app, available through app stores.
Interstate 64 is the Peninsula's main traffic vein and sections clog quickly during morning and afternoon commutes, and in summer when visitors head to vacation destinations. The greatest bottlenecks occur where the interstate narrows just north of the Jefferson Avenue exit, and at the Hampton-Roads Bridge Tunnel.
The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, known as the HRBT can be a quick, scenic trip from Hampton to Norfolk, but during commute hours and summer, it can be maddeningly slow. Electronic signs along I-64 alert drivers to delays and back-ups, suggesting alternate routes.
The Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel, on Interstate 664, can add up to 7 miles to a drive from the Peninsula to South Hampton Roads, but it's usually smoother than the HRBT. Electronic signs on the interstates provide updates on congestion and travel times.
The James River Bridge connects the Peninsula and Isle of Wight County. The 4.5-mile span, a drawbridge, is narrow and often congested.
The Coleman Bridge, a toll crossing, connects York and Gloucester counties via Route 17. Northbound drivers must pay $2 to cross the bridge. The bridge has toll booths and EZ Pass transponder lanes.
Warwick Boulevard and Jefferson Avenue are the spines of Newport News, separated by train tracks. When I-64 is a mess, they provide alternate north-south routes.
Route 17/J. Clyde Morris Boulevard/George Washington Memorial Highway is the commercial and commuter link from Isle of Wight County through Newport News to York and Gloucester counties.
Route 460 runs west of the James River and is a nice alternative to Interstate 64 if you're headed for Richmond and beyond.
The Downtown and Midtown tunnels cross the Elizabeth River, connecting Norfolk and Portsmouth, and tolls are charged on both. There are no toll booths. Tolls are collected via EZ Pass transponder or by invoices mailed to drivers. For more information, see the Elizabeth River Crossings website: http://www.driveert.com.
Two airports serve the region: Newport News-Williamsburg International, just off Jefferson Avenue in Newport News, and Norfolk International, off Norview Avenue in Norfolk.
The Newport News airport, with two concourses, is served by US Airways/American Airlines, and Delta, Frontier and Allegiant airlines. Norfolk also has two concourses and is served by Airtran, US Airways/American, Delta, Southwest and United airlines.
For more information, visit the airport websites:http://www.flyphf.com and http://www.norfolkairport.com.
Amtrak has stations in Newport News, Norfolk and Williamsburg. The stations are located at 9304 Warwick Blvd. in Newport News, 468 N. Boundary St. in Williamsburg and 280 Park Ave. in Norfolk. Routes connect the peninsula with Richmond, Washington D.C., New York and Boston. For more information: 800-872-7245, http://www.amtrak.com or the mobile site: m.amtrak.com. Amtrak also has a free smart phone app available via app stores.
Buses, light rail, ferries
Hampton Roads Transit is the regional bus service and includes paratransit service as well. The agency can be reached at 222-6100. http://www.hrtransit.org, and on Facebook and Twitter. Peninsula fares are $1.50, but rise to $1.75 in Fall 2014. The system includes Max express buses from the Peninsula to the South Side cities, with $3 fares and free wifi. Fares will rise to $3.50. Three passenger ferries operate between Norfolk and Portsmouth, with $1.50 fares, set to rise to $1.75.
The Tide light rail system in Norfolk extends 7.4 miles from the Eastern Virginia Medical Center to Newtown Road. http://www.ridethetide.com. The fare is $1.50, but will rise to $1.75.
The free Jamestown-Scotland Ferry connects James City and Surry counties. 800-823-3779.
Greyhound (www.greyhound.com) has bus terminals in Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Suffolk and Williamsburg.
Want to know more? visit us at dailypress.com/livinghere. Want to know more? Visit dailypress.com/livinghere.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun