PNK 2030 member Robert Hopewell, III and NKC Supervisor Patricia Paige have been working behind the scenes on a critical issue to make NKC safer: the widening of I-64 from exit 200 to far east side.
Mr Hopewell has extensive experience in other states’ Department Of Transportation projects and as soon as he came to New Kent, he began to focus on the mission of widening I-64. Ms Paige, with Mr Hopewell’s support, worked with many people at VDOT to get the widening from exit 200 to exit 205 completed much earlier than originally planned. The most important factor in getting this Project built was that VDOT found the funding to facilitate the Project. They are pushing for the rest of the expansion to be completed earlier than where we are “in the queue.”
Based on Mr Hopewell’s 36-1/2 years in the Heavy / Highway Construction Industry, working with DOTs is often like pushing a large rock, up a very steep hill. Hopefully, VDOT will “see the light” and move forward on the design and construction of the Interstate Route 64 Widening Program, from Exit 205 to Milepost 224.2 (New Kent County / James City County Line), sooner than later. Since the Interstate Route 64 Widening Program will most likely be a Design / Build Program, V-DOT need only complete thirty (30 %) percent of the Construction Drawings to put these Construction Projects out to bid.
Importance to the Public
These Construction Projects are extremely important to the “motoring public,” to the citizens of the Commonwealth; and, most significantly, to the citizens of New Kent County, for the following reasons (not listed in order of import):
1. Relief of traffic congestion on Interstate Route 64 from Exit 205 to Milepost 224.2 (especially important during the Summer vacation season);
2. Relief of traffic congestion on Interstate Route 64 from Milepost 224.2 to Milepost 233.0 (Western terminus of Segment III of the Interstate Route 64 Widening Program);
3. Improved traffic safety for both automobiles and commercial trucks on Interstate Route 64 from Exit 205 to Milepost 233;
4. Improved “drive time” for commercial truck traffic serving the Port of Virginia (important to note that the Port of Virginia is the only commercial Port on the East Coast of the US, with a 50 foot deep main channel and berthing);
5. Potential reduction of NKC Fire / EMS / Ambulance Emergency Response to vehicular accidents on Interstate Route 64 (all costs borne by NKC);
6. Potential reduction of vehicular traffic on New Kent Highway (Route 249) and Pocahontas Trail (Route 60), due to reduction of traffic congestion on Interstate Route 64. Neither roadway, especially New Kent Highway (Route 249) is capable of handling the increased traffic volume, caused by vehicular accidents / traffic congestion on Interstate Route 64;
The biggest hurdle to overcome, to move the Interstate Route 64 Widening Program forward is funding. Unlike the Hampton Road Transportation District and the NOVA Transportation District, the Richmond Transportation District (which includes New Kent County) does not have the benefit of the allocation of one (1%) percent of the Virginia Sales Tax to fund Transportation Projects.
Supervisor Paige has been spearheading New Kent County’s efforts to submit the Interstate Route 64 Widening Project (from Exit 205 to Exit 211) to the V-DOT Smart Scale Program. It is Hopewell’s understanding that this Project has made it to the 4th round in the VDOT Smart Scale Program, with its pending submission during the 1st / 2nd quarter of 2020.
Unfortunately, the Federal Government, in the form of the Federal Highway Administration (“FHWA”), no longer provides funding for Interstate Highway Construction Projects, since the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (“ISTEA”) has not been re-allocated by Congress, primarily due to the fact that the Federal Gas Tax was last raised in 1993 and is not indexed to inflation, which increased by a total of seventy-three (73%) percent from 1993 to 2018.
As you can see, getting Interstate Route 64 widened in New Kent County, from Exit 205 to Milepost 224.2, requires a major effort on the part of our Virginia and NKC Government Officials, as well as the citizens of NKC.