New MLK expressway set to open for drivers by the end of the year

Posted at 8:43 PM, Nov 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-17 23:28:10-05

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - If you live on the south side of Hampton Roads, you've likely experienced traffic in downtown Portsmouth to get onto I-264.

"Any time you have congestion in the city streets, where you have cross walks, pedestrians, it's not an ideal scenario," says Dan Norman, Elizabeth River Crossings Construction Director.

However, the notorious standstills and congestion may finally have a solution.

The Martin Luther King Expressway is set to open for drivers by the end of the year, to provide several new ways to get onto I-264.

News 3 was able to get a firsthand look at the project with Norman today.

"Any way to improve getting onto 264 is going to help," he says.

Through the one-mile elevated bridge, Norman says that commuters coming from the Monitor-Merrimac, Western Branch, or even the Midtown Tunnel, will have direct access to I-264 without going through downtown Portsmouth.

Additionally, drivers will have easier and direct access to, and between, the midtown and downtown tunnels.

"The MLK is sort of the last piece of the puzzle," says Norman.

For the city of Portsmouth, Vice Mayor Elizabeth Psimas  says the project is a win for safety and road maintenance alone.

"Those that do need to get to I-264 to go in another direction, now won't be on Frederick Boulevard, they won't be on Turnpike, they won't be on our city streets and in our neighborhoods so it's a big deal."

With the recently announced toll increases coming to the downtown and midtown tunnels, Psimas says it's good news for drivers without a price tag.

"It's a great project for moving traffic."