I-64 to Get Richmond-to-Newport News Repaving

Fri April 16, 2004 - National Edition

RICHMOND, VA (AP) Commuters and beachgoers are facing a three-year driving nightmare: Interstate 64 from Newport News to suburban Richmond is being repaved.

With the existing I-64 widening project in Hampton and planned bridge repairs in the Richmond area, the newly announced work means that at least four major construction and maintenance projects will be under way this summer on sections of Virginia’s main east-west interstate.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) sent letters Tuesday to members of the Virginia General Assembly and officials of localities where the work will take place informing them of the projects. Some of the work could be delayed or cut back if state lawmakers run into new budget snags.

VDOT said motorists should consider alternate routes such as U.S. 460 and U.S. 60.

Most of the more than $60 million in additional money needed to complete the plan is expected to come from the federal government, but a portion of the cost must be paid by the state.

VDOT said it will require contractors to work mostly on weeknights to minimize delays for travelers.

"VDOT understands that these areas of I-64 are in need of significant repair, and our goal is to complete those repairs while having the least amount of impact to traffic," said Jeff Caldwell, a VDOT spokesman. "Our goal is to complete this as quickly as possible," he added.

The Newport News-to-Richmond repaving project –– one of the largest in VDOT history –– is part of Virginia’s preparations for Jamestown 2007, the 400th anniversary of the establishment of the first English colony in the New World.

The expected impact of all of the projects on tourist-dependent parts of Hampton Roads led VDOT to begin alerting the region’s tourism coordinators so they can warn potential visitors about the highway work. Many of Virginia’s tourism destinations, particularly Virginia Beach, are reached primarily by car.

VDOT officials said the work on I-64 shouldn’t be postponed any longer because much of the interstate is in urgent need of repair.

The 60-mi. (96.6 km) repaving project will last about three years.