Layne: No work on Hampton University land without approval

WAVY/Aaron Kurtz
WAVY/Aaron Kurtz

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne said Friday that he sent a letter to Hampton University President William Harvey to show that no university land will be taken as a result of a planned Interstate 64 expansion project.

The university said earlier this week that the Virginia Department of Transportation’s plan to add lanes to Interstate 64 near the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) threatens the historic Emancipation Oak. The tree is where southern slaves first heard the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

A recommendation for the I-64 HRBT widening project was sent to the state’s transportation board last month. It calls for a third tube at the HRBT, along with two new lanes for I-64 along that corridor.

An attorney for Hampton University said Harvey had no intention of giving up even an inch of land to the government. Layne responded to Hampton’s concerns Thursday, saying the state will not take any land from the university.

Layne stated in Friday’s news conference that he wants to work out an agreement so that no work is done on Hampton University land without the school’s approval.

“Every inch of Hampton University is sacred and essential to the legacy of the institution,” President Harvey said Friday.

10 On Your Side asked Layne how he could make sure the state never takes Hampton University’s land without approval.

“We’re gonna take a resolution to the Commonwealth Transportation Board to memorialize this,” he explained. “We’re going to put it into federal documents.”

Layne said those documents would prevent future plans from developing on Hampton University’s property — a guarantee to protect Hampton University’s history for the future.

“If you wanted to take the right-of-way, then it would have to go get the federal highways approval,” he said. “It would probably have to mean restarting the environmental documents which would add years to the project.”