Hampton Roads transportation projects rank high on state’s priority list

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Many of you drive on the busiest and most congested routes in Hampton Roads and two of those roads are high on the state’s priority list of what needs to be fixed.

VDOT says something needs to be done, and they’ve pitched it to the people who make the ultimate decision: Virginia’s Office of the Secretary of Transportation. The office used its new smart scale system to research roads across the Commonwealth.

It found Phase One of the High Rise Bridge project and the I-64/264 interchange need funding and therefore, ranked high in the state for congestion, accessibility and environment.

Project to improve High Rise Bridge on fast track

Hampton Roads is scheduled to get $150 million for the projects, according to Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms. He also serves on the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission (HRTAC).

“We got ourselves in a pretty big hole and we’ve got to get out of it,” said Sessoms. “The $150 million that we just received allows us to keep moving forward with the projects we have planned.”

That’s $100 million for Phase 1 of the High Rise Bridge Project and $50 million for the the I-264/64 interchange.

VDOT breaks ground on I-264/I-64 interchange improvements

“With the combination of these dollars and HRTAC, we can move forward with these projects,” said Sessoms. “I cannot have a four star admiral tell me again that the relationship we have with the Navy is in jeopardy because of military readiness, because we can’t move our sailors on our roads.”

It also costs businesses money when their trucks get backed up and commuter issues when they spend hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

The smart scale is research based. It breaks down the need for each region. That’s why Hampton Roads could get the funding they need, Sessoms says.

“We have competed well with Northern Virginia on road projects and it just shows you we have some severe needs, not major needs, but major needs to fixing our transportation system and we are in the process of doing it.”

Localities submitted projects for scoring over the fall. Those projects were made available for public review and input during several fall public meetings held across the state.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board will release a draft scenario of projects for funding this spring for public review. The board will make its final decision on which projects to fund and include in the six-year improvement program this June. Once projects are in the program, they will be fully funded through construction, according to the Commonwealth Transportation Board.