Hampton Roads Beltway

Hampton Roads Beltway

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 and the bridge-tunnels are owned and operated by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

History

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 convert|35|mi|km|sing=on 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 convert|21|mi|km|sing=on 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 convert|56|mi|km|sing=on-long I-64/I-664 loop was designated by the Virginia Department of Transportation (and signed) as the Hampton Roads Beltway.

Inner Loop, Outer Loop designations

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

There are indications that a third highway crossing of Hampton Roads will be essential to avoid traffic gridlock in the near future. Already, miles-long backups are common on 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 "third crossing" 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.

Major cities

The major cities included in the route of the Hampton Roads Beltway are sometimes known as the Seven Cities of Hampton Roads. Alphabetically listed, these are:
* Chesapeake, Virginia
* Hampton, Virginia
* Newport News, Virginia
* Norfolk, Virginia
* Portsmouth, Virginia
* Suffolk, Virginia
* Virginia Beach, Virginia

The Hampton Roads region also includes two other smaller cities and seven counties, but none of these are located along the beltway. They are:

Cities:

Virginia Peninsula:
* Poquoson, Virginia
* Williamsburg, Virginia

Although Franklin, Virginia is frequently identified locally as part of South Hampton Roads, it is not part of the federally designated metropolitan area.

Counties:

South Hampton Roads:
*Isle of Wight County, Virginia
*Surry County, Virginia

Virginia Peninsula:
*James City County, Virginia
*York County, Virginia

Middle Peninsula:
*Gloucester County, Virginia
*Mathews County, Virginia

North Carolina:
*Currituck County, North Carolina

See also

* Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel
* Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel
* Seven Cities of Hampton Roads

References

* 2005 Rand McNally "The Road Atlas 2005" - newest feature- interstate mileage by state
* [http://www.virginiadot.org/comtravel/hro-tunnel-default.asp Virginia Department of Transportation Travel Center - Hampton Roads Tunnels and Bridges]

External links

* [http://www.kurumi.com/roads/3di/ix64.html#664va Kurumi's website about 3 digit interstates connecting with I-64]
* [http://www.interstate-guide.com/i-064.html Interstate Guide I-64 in Virginia]
* [http://www.interstate-guide.com/i-664_va.html Interstate Guide I-664 in Virginia]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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