This morning I attended the meeting of the TPO's Transportation Technical Advisory Committee (TTAC). TTAC is so absurdly dry that I don't blog on the meetings as such. (Ever listen to two hours plus of a roomful of engineers talking about transportation projects?) However, this morning there was a Presentation on the TPO's ongoing Congestion Management Process (CMP) that was a cold bucket of water in the face. A couple things from it that should sound alarm bells:
1. By 2030 virtually all of Hampton Roads' interstate network will be Severely Congested, at Grades E or F. The kicker: even that forecast is based on all of the road projects in the current 2030 Plan being completed by then. (Uh...I don't think so.)
For those who think no one will ride light rail, they will within a generation. We need to have the trunk lines of a regional light rail system on the ground by then.
2. For all of the talk about the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT), better pay more attention to the Monitor-Merrimac Bridge-Tunnel (MMBT). The MMBT's rush hour volumes are within 10%-12% of the HRBT, as it simply manages it better given that there are fewer ramps near the facility. Also, MMBT traffic overall is growing 4%-5% annually.
You can no longer speak of The Third Crossing as a "want". It's definitely a need. Expanding the HRBT alone would face having it constrained by the same interchanges that give it more problems than the MMBT today.