CHESAPEAKE, Va. — After years of construction, one of the largest and most expensive projects in the Virginia Department of Transportation's history is open for use.
VDOT said the new High Rise Bridge on Interstate 64 in Chesapeake is now open.
The new 1.2-mile, fixed-span High Rise Bridge has a 100-foot clearance over the Elizabeth River. It will initially carry two lanes of I-64 west traffic toward Virginia Beach.
Two lanes of I-64 east traffic toward Suffolk will remain on the existing High Rise Bridge.
"For the first time, we'll have separated eastbound, westbound lanes," said VDOT Project Director Mike Prezioso.
Unlike the original High Rise, the new bridge is tall enough to avoid stopping traffic for bridge lifts for traffic heading toward Virginia Beach.
"So, if you're heading from points west to Virginia Beach, you'll never have a bridge opening again to wait for," Prezioso added.
Drivers are relieved to hear about the bridge.
"Definitely could use a little more flowing through the high-rise," driver Michael Moreau said Friday. He said the new bridge opening is long-awaited. "One little accident causes all kinds of back-up; whether that's going to change with the new bridge, we're going to have to see.
Prezioso touted the width of the new high-rise at about 85 feet. "There's going to be over 20-foot wide areas on each side where if there's an incident or disabled vehicle to get the vehicles out of the traffic very quickly."
With the bridge open, VDOT said drivers should especially watch their speed and expect further construction on the shoulders, as well as single-lane closures at night to complete additional work on the bridge.
The remaining construction includes widening the corridor to three lanes by adding an Express Lane in each direction from 0.6 miles east of the I-264 interchange at Bowers Hill to 0.9 miles east of the I-464 interchange.
The milestone is part of a historic $550 million expansion of I-64 in Chesapeake that also includes:
- Replacement and realignment of the Great Bridge Boulevard Bridge over I-64 (this was completed in November 2021).
- Widening of six existing I-64 bridges over Military Highway, Yadkin Road, and Shell Road.
- Installation of nearly 8 miles of sound wall.
- Reconfiguration of the existing High Rise Bridge to carry one-directional traffic (eastbound toward Suffolk).
- Completion of an asphalt overlay for existing interstate lanes.
VDOT said most of the major work on this massive expansion should be done by early 2023.
Further down the road, transportation officials hope to replace the existing High Rise Bridge entirely and expand the corridor to a total of eight lanes. Funding and timing for this have not yet been made.
VDOT officials want to remind drivers to slow down while crews are working. For more information on the project, click here.