Chesapeake's new High Rise Bridge now open to traffic

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Posted at 7:43 AM, Jul 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-17 07:46:43-04

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - There's a major milestone in the I-64 widening and High Rise Bridge expansion project. The new High Rise Bridge opened to traffic starting Saturday.

It's been under construction for the last couple of years and now that it's opening, the wider and taller bridge will help ease the flow of traffic. So if you're heading from Suffolk towards Virginia Beach, you'll never have to wait for a bridge opening again.

"It will alleviate a lot of that traffic congestion and minimize frustration back and forth to work," said commuter Darrell Ervin, who also said he's "thrilled" about the new bridge.

The newly constructed 1.2-mile fixed span bridge will initially carry two lanes of I-64 West towards Virginia Beach, and eastbound traffic towards Suffolk will remain on the existing High Rise Bridge.

It also has a 100-foot clearance over the Elizabeth River that will help not only with traffic because it's tall enough to avoid stopping traffic for bridge lifts.

It also provides a key evacuation route should a hurricane or other emergency conditions arise.

"This is a tremendous need being met — it's been a long time coming. It's been planed for quite some time," said Delegate Cliff Hayes, who told us it's important safety remains at the forefront. "All roads, including parts of Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and southeast North Carolina will come to cross the High Rise Bridge in order to find safer ground in an emergency evacuation route."

With summer here, and visitors hitting Hampton Roads, people won't have to wait for a bridge opening again.

"You don't want to sit in traffic during the summertime. You want to get to your point of your destination and maximize your time and enjoy," Ervin said.

VDOT officials say the new bridge will improve mobility and safety in our area and add much-needed space to the highly-traveled highway.

“Up till now all four lanes of traffic have been on the old high-rise bridge very narrow, tight shoulders. The new bridge is much wider, and it will have the capacity to move vehicles out of the queue if there's a disabled vehicle or an incident has will have wider shoulders even under the current temporary conditions we're in,” Mike Prezioso, the VDOT Project Director said.

Now even though this portion of the project has been completed, it's still part of an overall eight-mile project and part of a design to expand the corridor to a total of eight lanes that will eventually replace the existing High Rise Bridge.

Additional project improvements include:

  • Replacement and realignment of the Great Bridge Boulevard Bridge over I-64; 
  • Widening of six existing I-64 bridges over Military Highway, Yadkin Road and Shell Road; 
  • Installation of nearly 8 miles of sound wall; 
  • Reconfiguration of the existing High Rise Bridge to carry one-directional traffic (eastbound towards Suffolk); and 
  • Completion of an asphalt overlay for existing interstate lanes.

VDOT tells us drivers can expect continued construction on the shoulders at nighttime, and single lane closures to complete additional bridge work.