Families could be displaced for widening of HRBT

Posted at 9:35 PM, Oct 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-27 23:22:00-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Families could potentially be displaced if the Commonwealth Transportation Board votes yes on a $3.3 billion project to fix traffic around the HRBT.

"This is our home. We were planning on being old here, and retiring here and now you can see we're raising our great granddaughter here. This is home," said Carolyn Niblett.

The nine homes are nestled by the water on the 1400 and 1500 block of Bayville and 150 block of Chester Streets in Willoughby Spit. In efforts to fix the bad traffic at the HRBT, on October 20, the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization, a group made up of leaders throughout the region, unanimously agreed to support a plan that would put a third tunnel at the HRBT. It's known as Alternative A.

"We suffer here trying to get to the Peninsula. So it really does make a lot of sense," said Annette Connors, who moved to Willoughby Spit around a decade ago.

But to turn the HRBT from four into six lanes, nine homes might need to be uprooted. Some people are okay with that.

"It's the right thing. The third crossing will definitely help, but that's a long time coming. This is the first reasonable thing to do," said Connors.

But not everyone is on board with the potential move.

"When you have a good neighborhood like it, to just destroy it doesn't make much sense to me," said Niblett, who is angry her home could be sacrificed.

The parallel bridge tunnel would be built west of the current HRBT.

VDOT said all property owners with potential impacts to their property were sent postcards notifying them of documents showing the impact on their area and of public meetings that were held.

All property impacts won't be realized until the Federal Highway Administration issues a record of decision and detailed designs are complete.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board is scheduled to vote on which alternative to build December 7.