Hampton Roads consists of the cities Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach. The region is a military hub with several facilities including Norfolk Navy Base, Oceania Naval Air Station, Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base, and Langley A.F.B. In addition southeast Virginia is home to a large shipbuilding industry with yards all along the branches of the Elizabeth River in both Norfolk and Portsmouth. The growing area sees commercial districts in downtown Norfolk and suburban Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. Older neighborhood areas can be found in downtown Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk, and Portsmouth. Suburban sprawl is the theme in southern and eastern Virginia Beach, Suffolk, and to an extreme extent Chesapeake.
The main highway in Hampton Roads is Interstate 64. The route links southeastern Virginia with the state capital of Richmond and points west. Connections with Interstate 95 & 295 provide access between Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia & Washington D.C. The roadway consists of four to eight lanes from Williamsburg to the eastern terminus in Chesapeake. Widening expanded the Hampton segment west of Interstate 664 to eight lanes between U.S. 258 (Mercury Boulevard) and Virginia 143 (Jefferson Avenue), including an HOV-lane during peak hours. At the James River, Interstate 64 crosses the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. Completed in 1957 as a two lane facility, the crossing carries Interstate 64 and U.S. 60 between Phoebus in Hampton to Willoughby Spit in Norfolk. Construction resulted in a twin two lane bridge to bring the crossing up to four overall lanes by 1976. The completion coincided with the removal of tolls. Further east a reversible High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) roadway exists between Interstates 264 and 564 in eastern Norfolk and western Virginia Beach. South of Interstate 264, the highway carries six plus two HOV-2 lanes through to the Battlefield Boulevard (Virginia 168 Business) interchange. However construction is underway (2009) to rebuild the Battlefield Boulevard interchange and expand Interstate 264 to include a local/express configuration. Otherwise the freeway carries four overall lanes through to the terminus at Interstate 264 & 664. The High Rise Bridge crosses over the Elizabeth River between Interstate 464 & U.S. 17 and U.S. 17 Business. The concrete and steel drawbridge was built in 1969.4
Although Hampton Roads has only one 2di Interstate, it also includes four 3dis, all stems of Interstate 64. Of these Interstate 264 ranks as the longest with 25.07 miles. The east-west freeway cuts a swath through Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach. In 1999, Interstate 264 saw extension to overtake the formerly tolled (until 1995) Virginia Beach-Norfolk Expressway (Virginia 44). Through Virginia Beach, Interstate 264 is generally an eight-lane freeway. During rush hour in the peak direction, west of Rosemont Road (Exit 18), the inside lanes become HOV-2 while the outside shoulder is utilized as a travel lane (to maintain eight general purpose lanes). In Norfolk, Interstate 264 constitutes an eight-lane freeway between U.S. 13 (Military Highway) and the Waterside Drive exit near downtown, with the inside lanes relegated to HOV-2 during peak hours and no shoulder use allowed here.1 The east-west freeway crosses the Berkeley Bridge over the East Branch of the Elizabeth River and the Downtown Tunnel over the South Branch of the Elizabeth River. The Downtown Tunnel system includes the oldest tunnel within Hampton Roads, having opened in 1952. A second bore was added by 1987. The Berkely Bridge opened in 1952 and saw expansion in 1991 to coincide with the second Downtown Tunnel completion.4
Interstate 464 is a north-south freeway between the Hampton Roads Beltway and U.S. 17 & Virginia 168 (Oak Ridge Connector) and downtown Norfolk (Interstate 264). The freeway carries six lanes from the southern terminal northward to Virginia 337 (Exit 4). Originally planning documents referred to Interstate 464 as Interstate 364.2 Interstate 564 serves the Norfolk Naval Base from Interstate 64 via a six lane alignment between the Hampton Roads Beltway and Granby Street (U.S. 460) to Virginia 337 (Admiral Taussig Boulevard). An interchange exists midway on the freeway with Virginia 406 (Terminal Boulevard). Studies are currently underway involving a third bridge-tunnel crossing in the Hampton Roads area that would extend Interstate 564 westward to Interstate 664 off the coast of Newport News, with an associated widening of I-664 northward into the city. VDOT is using the Virginia 510 designator in planning documents for this project.3 Interstate 664 rounds out the Interstate system, providing the second James River crossing via the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge Tunnel. The 1992 opened bridge-tunnel system carries four lanes of traffic through a pair of 4,500-foot tunnels.4 Interstate 664 bypasses downtown Norfolk and Portsmouth to the west, providing the preferred route from Richmond and northern Virginia to Interstate 64 and points south. The highway carries four lanes from Chesapeake northward to Newport News. The northernmost reaches of the freeway, also the oldest, carry six lanes.
Hampton Roads Beltway
In effort to ease the confusion on Interstate 64 in southern Hampton Roads, the Hampton Roads Beltway was designated. These trailblazers are generally cosigned with standard reassurance shields on the mainline Interstate. The routing follows all of Interstate 664 and Interstate 64 from Exit 264 eastward. The Beltway was first signed in 1997.3
The beltway was designated mainly to aid drivers along Interstate 64 south of Interstate 264 and the Virginia Beach-Norfolk Expressway. Along this stretch Interstate 64 eastbound turns south than west on a curved alignment through the city of Chesapeake. Thus the cardinal direction created a confusing scenario where west meant east and east meant west. By 2000, VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) removed cardinal direction designations to all Interstate 64 related signs from the eastern Interstate 264 interchange (exit 284) southward. At the same point Hampton Roads Beltway (HRB) shields were placed with either an Inner or Outer banner. HRB Inner follows original Interstate 64 East and HRB Outer follows Interstate 64 West. As of Summer 2002, the Hampton Roads Beltway is fully signed. Every reassurance shield along Interstates 64 and 664 are accompanied by a Hampton Roads Beltway trailblazer. However sign bridges at intersecting roads (such as Greenbrier Parkway) still are misleading in which control city is used for Interstate 64 within the limits of Chesapeake. The confusion revolves around Interstate 664 being the designated route to Richmond (via Interstate 64 Inner), while Hampton is mentioned on Interstate 64 Outer signs.
Virginia 168 (Battlefield Boulevard) provided the main route between Hampton Roads and the Outer Banks resort area of North Carolina for years. The state highway existed as an at-grade arterial through Great Bridge and a two lane facility southward to the North Carolina state line. As the Outer Banks grew in popularity as a tourist destination, along with the increased population boon in Chesapeake, Virginia 168 grew in congestion. The city of Chesapeake decided the only way to alleviate this situation was to construct an expanded Virginia 168 on a new alignment. A four-lane corridor along or near Virginia 168 through Chesapeake, including the “Great Bridge Bypass” and “Oak Grove Connector” had been considered since the mid-1960s. At the time, it was proposed as an expressway rather than a freeway. As things turned out, the corridor was built as a freeway/tollway for all except the southernmost two miles.1 The corridor was included as part of ISTEA/NHS/TEA-21 High Priority Corridor 25 in the 1990s.
The Great Bridge Bypass segment of Virginia 168 predates the Oak Ridge Connector and Chesapeake Expressway portions by several decades. The Oak Ridge Connector saw construction in the late-1990s to link the Great Bridge Bypass with Interstate 64 and Interstate 464. Upon completion of the two-mile connector, Virginia 168 saw realignment from Battlefield Boulevard onto the new freeway and Interstate 64 between Exits 290 and 291. From there construction commenced on the tolled Chesapeake Expressway alignment south of Great Bridge. Although curtailed for a time by excessive rains from Hurricane Floyd and various Winter storms, the highway was completed on time before Memorial Day weekend of 2001. The project begins at the North Carolina state line with the creation of a four-lane at-grade boulevard between the border and Galbush Road. At Galbush, Business Virginia 168 begins (following the old alignment) and the limited-access portion of Virginia 168 begins. A toll plaza resides between Galbush Road and the first Battlefield Boulevard interchange (Exit 5). Tolls levied on all passenger vehicles include $2 for cash transactions and 50 cents for SmartTag users. The Chesapeake Expressway segment tallies 6.4 miles4 with four overall lanes and a 55 mph speed limit.
Although not actually part of the Interstate system, Virginia 164 links Interstate 664 & the Hampton Roads Beltway with downtown Portsmouth in the vicinity of the Elizabeth River Tunnel. The highway provides a needed alternative to Interstate 264 and serves the city of Portsmouth quite well. The number designation leads one to believe that it was a planned Interstate 164. However through looking at older maps, this is actually the 2nd generation of Virginia 164 (the first following Laskin Road through Virginia Beach in the 1950s). Another factor to consider is that Virginia 164 falls within the stratum of Virginia route numbering convention (clustering). Virginia 165, 166, 168, and 170 all reside within Hampton Roads. The Western Freeway was built to full Interstate standards, but no Interstate designation is planned for the route.
The Hampton Roads area is home to U.S. Highways 13, 17, 58, 60, 258, and 460. These highways link to places such as Williamsburg, Richmond, Petersburg, Elizabeth City, Salisbury, and Emporia. Although a good portion of these roads are superseded in importance by the Interstate system, each maintains a pivotal role in the transportation network of the area.
U.S. 13 utilizes the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, a 17.6 mile crossing of the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. The bridge-tunnel carries a $10 toll for each direction for all passenger vehicles. Completed in 1962, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel constitutes one of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World.4 Upon crossing into Virginia Beach, U.S. 13 follows an expressway (Northampton Boulevard) southward to Interstate 64. Interchanges exist at U.S. 60 (Shore Drive) and Virginia 225 (Independence Boulevard) along Northampton Boulevard. U.S. 13 expands to eight overall lanes on Northampton Boulevard from Diamond Springs Road in Virginia Beach to Interstate 64.1 Within the Hampton Roads Beltway U.S. 13 follows the Military Highway, a varying four to eight lane surface arterial. An eight lane stretch of the Military Highway exists between U.S. 58 (Virginia Beach Boulevard) southward to Indian River Road, a distance of four miles. U.S. 13 overlaps with U.S. 460 in the city of Chesapeake from Bainbridge Boulevard (Virginia 166) westward to U.S. 58, where a three-way overlap takes shape.
U.S. 17 provides the main route for southbound traffic into North Carolina. The highway followed a narrow two lane roadway (George Washington Highway) through the Great Dismal Swamp of southern Chesapeake and Suffolk. By Winter 2002, U.S. 17 saw relocation from the George Washington Highway onto Dominion Boulevard (former Virginia 104). The former routing along George Washington Highway north of old Virginia 104 was rechristened U.S. 17 Business. U.S. 17 enters the Interstate system at the junction of Interstate 64 with Virginia 168 and Interstate 464 in Chesapeake. The federal highway follows the Hampton Roads Beltway between Exits 291 (Interstate 464 & Virginia 168) to Exit 296 (U.S. 17 Business). From there U.S. 17 rejoins its original alignment through the city of Portsmouth. U.S. 17 follows High Street, Western Branch Boulevard, and Bridge Road westward into the city of Suffolk. Near Carrollton U.S. 17 merges with U.S. 258 to cross the James River Bridge into Newport News. U.S. 258 continues eastward along Mercury Boulevard through Hampton beyond the U.S. 17 parting onto Jefferson Avenue.
The U.S. 17 corridor between Williamston, North Carolina and Hampton Roads, Virginia is part of ISTEA / NHS / TEA-21 High Priority Corridor 13, which begins in Raleigh, North Carolina. A new alignment is under construction from about a mile north of the North Carolina line to Dominion Boulevard (U.S. 17/former Virginia 104) just north of George Washington Highway (now-U.S. 17 Business). Improvements from there to Interstate 64 & 464 are being studied along the Dominion Boulevard alignment, rather than a new alignment.1
U.S. 58 carries a heavy amount of traffic along Virginia Beach Blvd. The roadway varies between six and eight lane arterial throughout Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Four lane sections of U.S. 58 exist along the Laskin Road portion in Virginia Beach and various parts in Norfolk otherwise. A U.S. 58 Business continues Virginia Beach Boulevard eastward to the Oceanfront from Laskin Road. The bannered route follows the original U.S. 58 alignment. Laskin Road carries the relocated U.S. 58 to the Oceanfront north of the Virginia Beach-Norfolk Expressway.
In Norfolk and Portsmouth, the U.S. 58 follows city streets through each respective downtown. The route travels under the Elizabeth River with Virginia 337 Alternate via the Midtown Tunnel between the two municipalities. The two-lane Midtown Tunnel opened in 1962 as the second tunnel between Norfolk and Portsmouth.4 Interchanges exist beyond each portal of the tunnel (with Brambleton Avenue to the east and the Martin Luther King Freeway to the west). The Martin Luther King Freeway portion ends at London Boulevard, just south of the T-interchange with Virginia 164 (Western Freeway)'s recently built Sewells Point Connector. Extension of the MLK Freeway as a toll facility is touted as one of four alternatives for the replacement of the aging Jordan Bridge. Touted as Alternate A, the freeway would entail a 4.4-mile loop from the current freeway end to Interstate 464 east of the Elizabeth River. Carrying four lanes, the toll road will include interchanges at Interstate 264 and three surface arterials and potentially alleviate congestion on the Interstate 264 Downtown Tunnel.5
Virginia 337 uses the closed Jordan Bridge, Interstate 464, and Interstate 264 into Downtown Norfolk before following Brambleton Ave, which multiplexes with U.S. 58 west of Duke Street, and U.S. 58 splits with Virginia 337 just on the Norfolk side of the Midtown Tunnel.
U.S. 60 travels the city streets of Newport News and Hampton via Warwick Boulevard, 25th & 26th Streets, and Kecoughton Road before merging onto Interstate 64 at Exit 267. The overlap with the Hampton Roads Beltway allows the highway to cross the James River via the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. U.S. 60 departs Interstate 64 at 4th View Street, just east of the Willoughby Spit. From there U.S. 60 straddles the southern shore of the Chesapeake Bay along Ocean View Avenue and Shore Drive in northern Norfolk and Virginia Beach. At Fort Story, Shore Drive turns southward along Atlantic Avenue along the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Midway along the Oceanfront, Atlantic Avenue turns one block east of U.S. 60. Here U.S. 60 follows Pacific Avenue southward to its terminus at the Rudee Inlet Bridge at General Booth Boulevard.
For more background and other related information to Hampton Roads area highways, see the Roads to the Future page by Scott Kozel.
Virginia 149 travels from Virginia 165 northward along Princess Ann Road. The state highway ends 1.92 miles north of Virginia 165 (North Landing Road). The terminus is likely where Princess Anne Road widens from two to four lanes ahead of General Booth Boulevard.1
- Froehlig, Adam.
- Summers, Stephen. “Interstate system route numbering.” http://www.nwindianahwys.homestead.com/INTER_MAIN.HTML.
- Kozel, Scott.
- Hampton Roads Tunnels and Bridges – Home Page – Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).
- Investors & Figg propose to build new Elizabeth River toll bridge in Norfolk VA, Toll Roads News
Page updated 03/26/09