With shovels in their hands, local elected and appointed officials broke ground Thursday afternoon for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s I-64, I-264 interchange improvement project.
It’s a two-phase, $158 million project that will provide four miles of interstate improvements and new bridges from the Twin Bridges to Virginia Beach’s Witchduck Road interchange.
What Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms said is one of the most backed up interchanges in the state could be completed by 2019, according to VDOT Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick.
“Today we’re here to break ground for one of nine priority projects in Hampton Roads that will help alleviate congestion and provide safer roads,” said Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne. “The most significantly weighted aspect of smart scale for Hampton Roads is congestion mitigation.”
The smart scale scoring system is designed to ensure that the state is wisely investing tax dollars to projects that meet the most critical transportation needs in Virginia. Scores are determined through objective, outcome-based processes transparent to taxpayers to keep decision makers accountable, according to Layne.
Layne also said this project in particular will help recent reforms and restrictions on tolling, specifically the future conversion effort of HOV lanes to HOT lanes to occur sometime next July.
The I-64 and I-264 interchange improvements project has been submitted to smart scale, but has yet to be scored. The score is expected to be made in the coming months.
In the meantime, the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission allocated funds to prioritize it. Of the nine high-priority projects in Hampton Roads, Layne said three are underway
Senator Frank Wagner said the I-64, I-264 interchange is one of the most dangerous ones in Hampton Roads.
“If you haven’t tried to negotiate Newtown Road at rush hour, or try to negotiate Witchduck Road at rush hour, you haven’t really had a thrill in driving,” Wagner said.
The city of Virginia Beach and Norfolk have worked closely together to put regionalism over locality in selecting to move forward with this project. For mayors of both cities, it’s about making traveling between cities easier.
“The I-64, I-264 improvement project will make the transition between Norfolk and Virginia Beach smoother and better for all citizens,” said Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Alexander. “Norfolk is committed, not only to the state, but to the General Assembly as well as the mayors in our region.”