Hampton Roads Beltway

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Hampton Roads Beltway
Route information
Maintained by VDOT
Length: 56 mi (90 km)
Major junctions
Beltway around Hampton Roads
  I‑64 / I‑664 in Hampton
I‑564 in Norfolk
I‑264 in Norfolk
I‑464 in Chesapeake
I‑64 / I‑264 / I‑664 in Chesapeake
Highway system

The Hampton Roads Beltway is a loop of Interstate 64 and Interstate 664, which links the communities of the Virginia Peninsula and South Hampton Roads which surround the body of water known as Hampton Roads and comprise much of the region of the same name in the southeastern portion of Virginia in the United States.

The Hampton Roads Beltway crosses the harbor of Hampton Roads at two locations on large four-laned bridge-tunnel facilities. The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel carries Interstate 64 (and U.S. Route 60) and the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel carries Interstate 664. The entire beltway, including the bridge-tunnels, is owned and operated by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

History[edit]

I-64 on the Hampton Roads Beltway, north of I-264

Even before Interstate 64 was built beginning in 1958, from some of the earliest planning stages, there were hopes of a circumferential highway to Interstate highway standards for the Hampton Roads region. Some proposals envisioned state and local and/or toll funding if necessary to achieve that goal.

Indeed, the first two-laned portion of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel was built with toll revenue bond funding in 1957 prior to the creation of I-64. It carried U.S. Route 60 and State Route 168 designations, and tied in with the new Tidewater Drive in Norfolk. (Tolls were removed when the other two lanes and tunnel were built adjacently to the immediate south of the older structure with federal Interstate Highway funding in the mid 1970s.)

Building of Interstate 64 was the first priority in the region, and a portion of Interstate 264 through Portsmouth connecting with the Downtown Tunnel was completed even as I-64 finally reached its eastern terminus at Bower's Hill in Norfolk County (which became the City of Chesapeake in 1963).

I-64, the portion of the Hampton Roads Beltway which was completed first, makes a huge 35-mile (56 km) long arc around the area, from Hampton through portions of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Chesapeake and around Portsmouth to reach Bower's Hill at the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp.

It was a number of years before the newer I-664 portion was built. The 21-mile (34 km) roadway connects with I-64 at Bower's Hill in Chesapeake and crosses through portions of Portsmouth and Suffolk to cross Hampton Roads via the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel and then pass through eastern Newport News to reconnect with I-64 in Hampton. This completed the loop in 1992.

In January, 1997, a 56-mile (90 km)-long I-64/I-664 loop was designated by the Virginia Department of Transportation (and signed) as the Hampton Roads Beltway.

Loop designations[edit]

The beltway has the clockwise direction (as looking down at a map of the area) signed as the Inner Loop, and the counter-clockwise direction signed as the Outer Loop. Essentially, I-64 forms the eastern portion and I-664 the western portion of the beltway.

Future[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Hampton Roads Transportation Authority.

There are indications that a fourth highway crossing of Hampton Roads might be essential to avoid traffic gridlock in the near future. Already, miles-long backups are common on the approaches to the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel.

As of January 2007, recent studies and proposed legislation in the Virginia General Assembly supported by many local members in both the State Senate and the House of Delegates may require that tolls on existing facilities (which are currently toll-free) be collected in the future to help pay for the enormous costs associated with a future so-called "third crossing" (in actuality, the fourth) and other regional transportation needs.

Under legislation from the 2007 session, the General Assembly empowered the creation of a special authority as a political subdivision of the state, upon concurrence of seven of the 12 counties and cities within the designated area, the Hampton Roads Transportation Authority. HRTA was created in July, 2007, with powers to raise revenue through a variety of specific local taxes and user fees, such as tolls.

This Transportation Authority met strong resistance from voters and many in the General Assembly. By 2008, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the Transportation Authorities created by the Assembly (there was one created for Northern Virginia as well) were unconstitutional because Virginia's Constitution only permits the General Assembly to impose taxes. With that ruling, the Transportation Authorities were deemed moot and powerless, and legislation was passed in 2008 to de-establish them. They never imposed any taxes or collected any money for transportation.

Route description[edit]

I-664 begins at a full Y interchange with I-64 and I-264 that serves as the terminus of all three Interstates in the Bowers Hill section of the city of Chesapeake. I-64 heads southeast as a continuation of the Hampton Roads Beltway through Chesapeake while I-264 heads east toward Portsmouth and Norfolk. I-664 heads west as an eight-lane freeway that has a southbound-only exit ramp to US 13 and US 460 (Military Highway) and crosses over Military Highway and a Norfolk Southern Railway rail line. The Interstate has a cloverleaf interchange with Military Highway, which here carries US 58 in addition to US 13 and US 460. The interchange also provides access to US 460 Alternate, which follows US 58 east into Portsmouth. I-664 curves north as a four-lane freeway that crosses Goose Creek and has a diamond interchange with SR 663 (Dock Landing Road) and a cloverleaf interchange with SR 337 (Portsmouth Boulevard).[1][2]

Just south of its partial cloverleaf interchange with SR 659 (Pughsville Road), I-664 crosses a rail line; a spur from that rail line heads north in the median of the freeway as the highway enters the city of Suffolk. The rail spur leaves the median and heads northeast toward Portsmouth just south of its interchange with SR 164 (Western Freeway) and US 17 (Bridge Road). SR 164 heads east toward downtown Portsmouth while US 17 heads northwest to the James River Bridge. There is no access from southbound I-664 to southbound US 17; that movement is made via the next interchange, a cloverleaf interchange with SR 135 (College Drive) that serves satellite campuses of Tidewater Community College and Old Dominion University and the Portsmouth neighborhood of Churchland.[1][2]

North of SR 135, northbound I-664 has a vehicle inspection station and crossovers before the highway enters the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel. The bridge-tunnel passes to the west of Craney Island, an artificial island in the city of Portsmouth that lies to the west of the mouth of the Elizabeth River. West of the highway is the confluence of the James River and Nansemond River to form Hampton Roads, as well as the James River Bridge a short distance to the north on the namesake river. I-664 heads north-northeast along a causeway for 3 miles (4.8 km) to a point west of the Newport News Middle Ground Light, where the pair of bridges curve to the north-northwest onto an artificial island where the highway descends into a pair of tunnels under the estuary's main shipping channel. The Interstate resurfaces on another artificial island at Newport News Point east of the coal piers in the city of Newport News.[1][2]

I-664 has a southbound vehicle inspection station adjacent to its first interchange in Newport News, with Terminal Avenue. The Interstate parallels the southern end of CSX's Peninsula Subdivision as it passes through interchanges with several streets to the east of downtown Newport News. The southern interchange has ramps to and from 25th, 26th, and 27th streets; the first two streets carry eastbound and westbound US 60, which is unmarked from I-664. The northern interchange has ramps to and from 35th Street and Jefferson Avenue; Jefferson Avenue is SR 143, which is also unmarked from the Interstate. I-664 curves east as a six-lane freeway away from the railroad and has an oblique crossing of SR 351 (39th Street) prior to half-diamond interchanges with Roanoke Avenue and Chestnut Street. The Interstate enters the city of Hampton and has diamond interchanges with Aberdeen Road and Powhatan Parkway before reaching its northern terminus at I-64. I-664 meets its parent highway at a directional T interchange above Newmarket Creek just south of Hampton Coliseum. The Hampton Roads Beltway continues east along I-64 through Hampton before crossing Hampton Roads on the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel into the city of Norfolk.[1][2]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]