Norfolk recommends I-64 solution, hosting public meeting tonight

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(Courtesy of vbgov.com)

(Courtesy of vbgov.com)

The Virginia Department of Transportation proposed four alternatives last month to relieve congestion on I-64, and Norfolk has decided on its recommendation.

The city is hosting a public informational meeting on Aug. 31 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Granby High School, 7101 Granby St. City leaders and staff will lead the meeting and explain the latest chapter of the Hampton Roads Crossing Study, an almost 20-year administrative effort to address traffic congestion in Hampton Roads. VDOT is seeking public input on the proposals until Sept. 19.

“It is important the Norfolk residents weigh in on this study,” Norfolk Mayor Kenneth C. Alexander said in a release. “This is a critical decision for our city and our economy that will affect generations to come.”

Last month, VDOT released a draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, which considers four build alternatives and one no-build alternative, meaning no improvements. The total estimated costs of construction range from $3.3 billion to $12.5 billion. Angel Deem, the division director for VDOT, briefed Virginia Beach City Council on the study on Aug. 23. Robert Crum, executive director for the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission and the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization, briefed the Norfolk City Council on July 19. 

A brief description of the four proposals can be found here.

 “These alternatives are essential for an enhanced regional economy, a reliable and accessible transportation network and improved evacuation routes,” the City said in a release. “The City of Norfolk analyzed all four alternatives and recommends Alternative D.”

Alternative D, at an estimated cost of $11.9 billion, is the second most expensive of the four options. It includes improvements to I-64 between Hampton and Norfolk, with a new parallel bridge-tunnel west of the current Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. It also includes improvements along the existing I-564 corridor, from I-64 west across the Elizabeth River through a new bridge-tunnel.

A new road would proceed south from the new bridge-tunnel, along the east side of Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area, and connect to existing Route 164. In addition, Route 164 would be widened to I-664, and I-664 would be widened from Hampton to Chesapeake with a new parallel bridge-tunnel west of the existing Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel.

“Alternative D addresses several major transportation projects and offers the greatest benefit to our infrastructure,” Alexander said in the release.

VDOT will host two open-house style public hearings on Sept. 7 and Sept. 8. Staff from VDOT will be on hand to discuss the study’s findings and answer questions. The meetings will be:

Sept. 7 at the Hampton Roads Convention Center, 1610 Coliseum Dr. in Hampton, from 5-7 p.m. The rain date is Sept. 14.

Sept. 8 at Quality Suites, 6280 Northampton Blvd. in Norfolk from 5-7 p.m. The rain date is  Sept. 15.

Marc Davis, media and communications manager for Virginia Beach, said City staffers are currently analyzing the four options and will make a presentation to City Council in September or October. Staff will recommend an option to City Council, which will then decide on a recommendation to make to VDOT, Davis said.

When the public comment period for the draft SEIS is over, VDOT, the Federal Highway Administration and other agencies will identify a preferred approach. That recommendation will then be presented to the Commonwealth Transportation Board. If the board approves, a final SEIS will be prepared. Funding will then be identified for the plan, and the Federal Highway Administration can then issue a record of decision.

The final SEIS and record of decision are targeted for 2017, according to VDOT.

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