Kaine, Luria tout potential impacts to Hampton Roads from infrastructure bill

Posted at 5:02 PM, Nov 09, 2021

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - After months of back-and-forth, the infrastructure bill has finally passed in Congress and is headed for President Biden's desk.

Sen. Tim Kaine touted the potential impacts of the bill during a meeting with leaders from the Port of Virginia on Tuesday.

"I think it could be transformative for port operations, for road and rail infrastructure, for transit, which is really necessary here," Kaine said.

Local leaders in Hampton Roads have already identified road projects the bill could fund. Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Virginia) says that will help the region.

"I think that puts our region at a distinct advantage that we have these projects that are already identified. We understand the impacts to our community as far as flooding and traffic congestion and we can prioritize those," Luria said.

A potential project is completely widening all of Interstate 64 between Hampton Roads and Richmond. Currently, the road is being widened to the east of Richmond and west of Hampton Roads, but there is still a gap in the middle.

"The additional transportation dollars that will come to Virginia and the Commonwealth Transportation Board means that a project like that that had maybe been down on a list, maybe they can get elevated," said Kaine.

The bill also includes $17 billion for ports. Around the country, backlogs at ports have led to supply chain issues and product shortages, but Port of Virginia leaders say they've largely avoided those.

Kaine said the Port has been doing it right. "We're taking advantage of investments. We're taking advantage of simple operating strutucture, but also as other ports have challenges people are realizing, 'Hey, Port of Virginia is a place to go,'" said Kaine.

As local Democrats who supported the bill are calling it a win. "I was disappointed that it took so long to get it across the finish line, but the important thing is it did," said Luria.

Related: Local leaders eye potential impacts of infrastructure bill