Families voice concerns over road project’s construction

(Liz Kilmer/WAVY Photo)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A multi-million dollar road project is causing a headache for some families.

Several came out Thursday afternoon for a public open house hosted by the Virginia Department of Transportation, voicing complaints and asking questions about the I-64/I-264 improvement project.

People living near construction off of Blackstone Street raised safety concerns, claiming that workers speed down the road in large utility vehicles.

“They haven’t showed any courtesy towards the neighbors,” Wayne Lassiter said.

“I’ve had to yell at a few,” Elizabeth Baine said. “Go, ‘Hey, this is a neighborhood!'”

Some residents are also unhappy with the removal of trees along the interstate, which had previously served as a noise barrier.

“It used to be quiet, and you could hear crickets, and the wind and the pines,” Lassiter said. “Now, you hear nothing but the interstate.”

Business owners caught off guard by I-64/I-264 interchange project

VDOT officials tell 10 On Your Side they are listening to the concerns, and working to be as considerate as possible given the circumstances.

Engineer James Klotz said VDOT has asked the contractors to be mindful of speed. They strive to minimize noise from the work, and are careful to clean up debris.

“And policing the area,” he said. “We’re sweeping a lot, we’re keeping up with any debris that may be dropped by trucks, in and out through that Blackstone area, and really trying to stay on top of that.”

Baine feels her voice is being heard. Already, VDOT has taken action on her behalf. When she told a liaison that the work vehicles were cutting into her property, VDOT placed stakes along the side of the road.

“I think they’re doing the best they can do under the circumstances, and hopefully they’ll continue to listen to us.”

Having commuted to Chesapeake for 35 years, she understands the need for the interstate improvements.

Phase one of the project includes widening I-64 west between the Twin Bridges and the I-264 interchange, adding two new ramps from I-64 west to I-264 east and creating a system of collector-distributor roads on I-264 east.

“What it’s gonna do, is enable people to get to 264 a lot quicker, and it’s also going to separate folks from the local traffic to the through-traffic,” Klotz said.

Phase one is expected to wrap up in October 2019. Phase two of the project will begin this year and be complete by 2021, tentatively. That phase includes improving interchanges at Newtown and Witchduck roads, in addition to creating a Greenwich Road flyover across I-264, connecting with Cleveland Street.

Thursday’s meeting was held at Arrowhead Elementary. 10 On Your Side attended a previous one there last year.