HAMPTON, Va. (WVEC) – Hampton University leaders are concerned that their campus is being threatened by VDOT.
VDOT may need to acquire part of Hampton's historic land in order to widen Interstate 64 leading into the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel.
Attorney Joseph Waldo is representing the university, making sure that I-64 isn't expanded any closer to the campus.
“They're willing to fight this all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary,” Waldo says. “Not one inch of Hampton University's property should be touch.”
Officials with VDOT and the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel recently met with university leaders to let them know that they may need to acquire some of their land as part of the proposed I-64 widening near the HRBT.
Part of that land includes Strawberry Banks, and the emancipation oak.
The tree is 75 feet from the Settlers Landing onramp to I-64 going eastbound.
But in a statement from VDOT, the proposed widening would not shift that onramp or the mainline interstate any closer to the tree than it already is.
Then work can be done to minimize impacts to properties and document them in the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS).
Waldo says the University retained experts to show VDOT that the road can be moved away from the campus.
“VDOT hasn't even considered taking down their own building,” Waldo says. “They would put Emancipation Oak in jeopardy before tearing down their own building.”
As far as Strawberry Banks, a VDOT spokesperson says the properties they'd like to acquire won’t be known until after the Commonwealth Transportation Board votes on a Preferred Alternative and after the detailed design phase of the project is underway.
That vote is in December.