Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the U.S. Navy signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that will allow work to begin on the Interstate 564 intermodal connector on the grounds of Naval Station Norfolk.
The project will connect the existing I-564 through the Navy base and to the Norfolk International Terminals, part of the Port of Virginia. The new road, to terminate near Hampton Boulevard (Route 337), will provide a safer high-speed highway that should decrease congestion, redirect heavy truck traffic from area streets and provide improved access to the base.
"The Port of Virginia and the presence of the Navy and other military installations combine to make this part of the state an economic powerhouse for the commonwealth," Governor McDonnell said. "Extending this route between Interstate 64 and the port and through the Norfolk Naval Station is one more step my administration is taking to streamline the transportation network into and around the Hampton Roads region. We also signed papers with the consortium selected to work in partnership with VDOT to build the new limited-access U.S. 460 between Prince George County and Suffolk, which will offer a safer and quicker alternative to the existing U.S. 460 as well as to I-64 into and out of Hampton Roads and the port."
Estimated cost of the I-564 extension project is $169 million. VDOT already has conducted preliminary engineering, environmental work, right-of-way acquisition, utility design and relocation and other activities on the design-build project. VDOT also held a public information meeting on the project in Norfolk on Dec. 11.
Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton said, "Extending and realigning I-564 will provide the starting point for a future crossing under the Elizabeth River to Interstate 664. The commonwealth and VDOT worked extensively with the Navy, the city of Norfolk and the Virginia Port Authority so that this partnership and the resulting transportation improvements will benefit all parties involved. A smooth-flowing transportation network is of utmost importance to the security and economy of this region and the nation."
"This transportation project helps increase the efficiency at our Norfolk International Terminal and is a tremendous benefit for the Port of Virginia and the commonwealth as a whole," said William Fralin with the Virginia Port Authority. "We appreciate the efforts of the governor, the secretary of transportation, and VDOT and look forward to continuing to work together to see this project to completion."
The I-564 intermodal connector will have four lanes with a grass median and will include new bridges and overpasses, exit and entrance ramps, stormwater management areas and other related infrastructure. It will provide separate traffic queues for vehicles entering the naval station and the Norfolk International Terminals. Finally, the connector's terminus will provide access to Second Street within Naval Station Norfolk, including replacement of Gate 6, access to the northern side of the Norfolk International Terminals and eastbound reentry to I-564 from both access points.
The I-564 intermodal connector is part of the larger Navy Triangle Area Improvements in this section of Hampton Roads. Previous Department of Defense legislation requires VDOT to construct the Air Terminal Interchange for the air field adjacent to the Navy base as a consideration to providing the requisite easement for the connector. Ongoing improvements on Hampton Boulevard also will reduce street congestion and improve safety at the entrance to the port once the at-grade rail crossing is removed at the intersection of Terminal Boulevard.
"VDOT plans to advertise for the I-564 connector within the first three months of 2013, so with the signing of the MOA, we are on a fast track to getting a contractor on board to design and build this project," said Greg Whirley, VDOT commissioner. "However, we will continue to involve the community as we and the contractor design this important project and to ensure that it has the proper linkages with all the other transportation improvements occurring in the Navy Triangle."