Highway projects around Virginia
Construction crews are busy along the state’s highways. Here’s a sample of the biggest projects around the commonwealth.
Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel expansion
The $3.3 billion Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel expansion is the largest construction project in the history of the Virginia Department of Transportation. In February 2019, Hampton Roads Connector Partners, a joint venture led by New York-based Dragados USA, won the design-build contract for the project, which is expected to be completed by November 2025. The expansion will add two-lane tunnels and widen the four-lane sections of Interstate 64 in Hampton between Settlers Landing Road and the Phoebus shoreline. It will also widen the four-lane section of I-64 in Norfolk between the Willoughby shoreline and I-564 interchange.
This spring and early summer, workers are relocating utilities on South Island and shifting lanes on the
south-approach trestle, with North Island expansion set to start in October.
The Willoughby Bridge is scheduled for widening starting in January 2021, followed by replacement of the north and south trestles in February, as well as the widening of the Oastes Creek Bridge. Next March and April will see the Mason Creek Bridge widened and the replacement of the Mallory Street Bridge. In February 2022, the tunnel-boring operation is set to begin, the first time the state has used this tunneling method, which is considered less disruptive to the environment than an immersed-tube approach that requires dredging the waterway.
The Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission is the primary funding agent for this project, using local revenue from sales and gasoline taxes in the Hampton Roads Transportation Fund.
I-64/I-264 interchange improvements
This $158.7 million project includes four miles of interstate improvements — from the Twin Bridges in Norfolk to the Witchduck Road interchange in Virginia Beach. The bridges will provide additional capacity, reduce congestion and improve safety and traffic operations. Phase I of the project widened I-64 between the Twin Bridges and the I-264 interchange; added two ramps from I-64 west to I-264 east; and added a system of Phase II, which started in March with drilled shaft construction that will support the new bridge and will improve collector-distributor roads on I-264 east. Phase II will improve the interchanges at Newtown and Witchduck roads in Virginia Beach, and crews are adding a Greenwich Road flyover across I-264 that connects with Cleveland Street, which is set to open to traffic in late 2020.
Denbigh Boulevard Bridge replacement
The $23 million construction project, which began in March 2019, will replace the Denbigh Boulevard Bridge over I-64 and CSX Railway between Warwick Boulevard and Jefferson Avenue in Newport News. The current bridge, which was structurally unsound, is being demolished in stages, and a new bridge is being constructed with four 12-foot lanes, a 16-foot raised median and two 8.5-foot sidewalks. During the first stage, traffic was shifted to one lane in each direction, allowing demolition, construction work and the creation of a training wall. During the second stage, which started in March, traffic is being shifted to the new portion of the bridge, and the remaining demolition and construction will be completed. The project is scheduled for completion in summer 2021.
Connectivity on interstates 495 and 95
The commonwealth of Virginia and road operator company Transurban invested $1 billion in a public-private partnership to reduce traffic congestion and improve connectivity on interstates 495 and 95 in Northern Virginia. The projects include a 2.5-mile extension of I-495 express lanes to the American Legion Bridge and the Maryland border. (In December, Virginia and Maryland entered into an agreement to replace the bridge by 2025.) There will also be an auxiliary lane to reduce bottleneck traffic on the Occoquan Bridge, which will connect the southbound Route 123 ramp onto I-95 with the westbound off-ramp of Prince William Parkway. The project also will add a reversible ramp to improve access to Potomac Mills and the Sentara Virginia Medical Center. The fourth project will extend the I-95 express lanes in Fredericksburg by 10 miles to increase the highway’s capacity by 66% during its peak hours.
Transform I-66 outside the Beltway
This $3.7 billion project is a public-private partnership between the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and I-66 Express Mobility Partners. The project will create 22.5 miles of express lanes on I-66 and I-495 to University Boulevard in Gainesville. New bus service and transit routes, expanded park and ride lots, interchange improvements, additional auxiliary lanes between interchanges and 11 miles of bike and pedestrian trails are included in the project. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the Washington Metro-politan Area Transit Authority, which has already reduced service due to COVID-19, will shut down the Metro Orange Line to accommodate construction. The express lanes are scheduled to open in December 2022.
Localities along the Interstate 81 corridor saw a 2.1% regional fuels tax bump last July. The approximately $150 million in revenue generated by the tax will go toward $2.2 billion in improvements recommended for I-81 by the Commonwealth Transportation Board. Gov. Ralph Northam opted for a fuels tax as opposed to tolls after months of debate in the 2019 General Assembly. The improvements will address major safety and reliability concerns on the highway’s 325 miles in Virginia between the Tennessee and West Virginia borders. Projects include bridge replacements, ramp extensions, widening the highway, curb improvements and adding auxiliary lanes.