Prior to completion of the Oak Ridge Connector, and the subsequent Chesapeake Expressway, Battlefield Boulevard (SR 168) provided the main route between Hampton Roads and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The state route traveled along an at-grade arterial through Great Bridge, and a two lane road southward to the North Carolina state line. With the Outer Banks growing as a popular tourist destination, along with a population boon in Chesapeake, congestion along SR 168 increased.
The city of Chesapeake pushed for an expanded SR 168 along a new alignment to alleviate the growing congestion. A four lane corridor along or near SR 168 through Chesapeake, including the “Great Bridge Bypass” and “Oak Grove Connector” had been considered since the mid 1960s. It was proposed at that time as an at-grade expressway rather than a freeway.1
The Great Bridge Bypass segment of SR 168 predates the Oak Ridge Connector and Chesapeake Expressway portions by several decades. The Oak Ridge Connector, linking the Great Bridge Bypass with I-64 and I-464, was constructed in the late 1990s. Upon completion of the two mile long connector, SR 168 was relocated onto the new freeway (and I-64 between Exits 290 and 291), with Battlefield Boulevard renumbered as SR 168 Business.
With the Oak Ridge Connector completed, work ensued on the tolled Chesapeake Expressway alignment south of Great Bridge. The project began at the state line, with construction of a four lane boulevard north to Galbush Road. The toll road separates from the old alignment (SR 168 Business) at Galbush Road. The main line toll plaza lies north of Galbush Road and ahead of the first interchange with Battlefield Boulevard (Exit 5).
Excessive rains from Hurricane Floyd and various winter storms hampered efforts, but crews were able to open the 6.4 mile long toll road on time before Memorial Day weekend of 2001.4 The Chesapeake Expressway is four lanes wide with a 55 mile per hour speed limit.