RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Department of Transportation intends to push forward with plans to widen a two-lane stretch of I-64 that connects Richmond to the peninsula, the state announced Tuesday.
The segment of highway, which the state has called the “I-64 gap,” is a 29-mile section through rural New Kent County. Sections to the East and West — on the peninsula and through the capitol area — are three lanes or more, but the state now plans to complete a widening project started nearly a decade ago.
“This notoriously congested stretch of interstate disrupts one of Virginia’s vital thoroughfares,” Transportation Secretary Shep Miller said. “Adding a third lane in each direction will unlock the corridor, unify Richmond and Hampton Roads, grow the economy and provide opportunities for all.”
It’s been over three years since the last portion of the project — a five mile stretch in Henrico and New Kent that cost $46 million — was completed. Now, the state has issued a request for proposals for the first of three segments to bridge the gap, totaling a little over 10 miles of highway at the western end of New Kent.
Although VDOT has asserted in multiple places that the two-lane stretch is “notorious” for causing backups as drivers merge into the narrower roadway, the agency did not share the results of any traffic study demonstrating pervasive issues in the area that could be addressed by the $277.8 million project.
According to VDOT, the project will also address other infrastructure needs in the area, including “replacement of old bridges,” “rehabilitation” of bridges, construction of sound barrier walls and expansion of stormwater systems.