CHESAPEAKE — CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WVEC) -- VDOT said it’s the largest project in its department’s history.
It is preparing to expand the Interstate 64 corridor, and build a new High Rise Bridge.
On Wednesday, VDOT held a public open house so residents could ask questions and learn more about the project.
An average of 80,000 vehicles cross the High Rise Bridge every day. Bobby Howell of Chesapeake is often driving one of them.
“Right now, 64 has a terrible back up all the time, so hopefully it won’t get worse it will get better. That’s all we are looking for, getting it better,” said Howell.
Howell was one of many residents at Deep Creek High School eager to learn more about VDOT’s historic $550 million project.
“This is the biggest design and builds project that VDOT has ever done to date,” said Dave Forster with VDOT.
The project consists of building a new 100-foot High Rise Bridge, which will run alongside the already existing 65-foot bridge.
“It’s going to carry all the direction toward Virginia Beach, the existing bridge is going to be converted to carry all the traffic towards Suffolk, right now all the traffic goes in both directions on the same bridge,” said Forster.
The project also includes adding a lane in each direction over a nine-mile stretch, expanding the corridor from four to six full-time travel lanes.
“Oh, we’ve needed this for a long time. I think Tidewater is behind in all of their projects,” said Tilson Copeland of Chesapeake.
Residents said it feels like they’ve lost years of their lives waiting in traffic on this stretch of highway.
“And it’s always backed up at the foot of that bridge all the time, and its got a lot of merging there, it’s a big problem. These extra lanes should help us out,” said Howell.
However, not everyone left the meeting satisfied. Patty York of Chesapeake didn't understand why the new bridge is 35 feet taller than the original.
VDOT said the taller bridge will allow ships to move underneath without having to lift it. Eventually, the future plan is to replace the original bridge with another 100-footer.
“I do have a fear of heights, and so if they just keep rising the heights of these bridges I’m not going over it,” said York.
The current project is expected to begin in June and be completed by the year 2021.
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