Interstate 64 in Virginia

Interstate 64 In Virginia traverses 300.06 miles, including the 29.91-mile-long overlap with I-81, and 3.20-mile-long overlap with I-95 (266.95 miles not including the overlaps). I-64 runs from the West Virginia border in Alleghany County, to the interchange with I-264 and I-664 at Bowers Hill in Chesapeake. I-64 serves the towns and cities of Covington, Clifton Forge, Lexington, Staunton, Waynesboro, Charlottesville, Richmond, Williamsburg, Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Portsmouth. I-64 was built near to and parallel to existing major interregional highways; US-60 from West Virginia to Lexington, US-11 from Lexington to Staunton, US-250 from Staunton to Richmond, US-60 from Richmond to Norfolk, and Military Highway (VA-165 and US-13) from Norfolk to Bowers Hill in Chesapeake. I-64 has four Interstate spur and loop routes, I-264, I-464, I-564, and I-664.

The terrain that I-64 crosses is extremely varied, with mountainous terrain in the west, rolling to gently rolling Piedmont terrain in the central part of the state, and flat or nearly flat coastal plain in the east. I-64 crosses the transportation barriers of the Allegheny Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountains with a 70 mile per hour design speed 4-lane expressway. The two key mountain barriers were North Mountain between Clifton Forge and Lexington, and Afton Mountain just east of Waynesboro; in both cases long grades carry the highway up 1,500 feet or more change in elevation, and there are many large cuts and fills. I-64 crosses two major transportation barriers in the east; the 3.8-mile-long Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel crosses Hampton Roads and the main shipping channel, and the 1-mile-long bridge over the South Branch of the Elizabeth River and Intracoastal Waterway in Chesapeake is a high-level drawbridge with 60 feet of vertical clearance when closed.

I-64 also crosses a very wide variety of both rural areas and major urban areas. It runs through Richmond, the state capital, a metropolitan area of 800 thousand people. I-64 also serves Williamsburg, the colonial capital of Virginia. The Interstate also serves the entire Norfolk/Hampton Roads area, a metropolitan area of 1.6 million people, which includes the cities of Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Chesapeake. Military installations served by I-64 and its spurs and loops (I-264, I-464, I-564, I-664) include the U.S. Navy Base in Norfolk, the U.S. Navy Amphibious Base and Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Fort Eustis in Newport News, Camp Peary and the U.S. Naval Weapons Station in James City County. Private shipyards and marine terminals served include Newport News Shipbuilding, the Newport News Marine Terminal, and the Norfolk International Terminals. Major commercial airports served include Richmond International Airport, Williamsburg-Newport News International Airport and Norfolk International Airport.

There was a controversy in the early years of the Interstate highway system, over the location of I-64 between Clifton Forge and Richmond. Cities along a proposed northern route wanted the Interstate to go there, and cities along a proposed southern route wanted the Interstate to go there. The proposed southern route called for the Interstate to follow from Richmond via US-360 and US-460, via Lynchburg to Roanoke and US-220 from Roanoke to Clifton Forge, then west following US-60 into West Virginia. The northern route paralleled US-250 from Richmond to Staunton and then US-11 from Staunton to Lexington, then US-60 from Lexington to Clifton Forge and the West Virginia line. The initial 1957 recommendation by a state-retained engineering consultant was for the northern route, and in 1959 the state actually did change the location to the southern route, but in 1961 the federal government overturned that in favor of the northern route. This controversy began in 1957 and was not fully resolved until 1963. The northern route was chosen in 1961, and a smaller controversy over routing the highway either just north of Charlottesville of just south of Charlottesville, was not resolved until 1963. See: Charlottesville won, and Lynchburg lost / Routing of I-64 was major tussle, by Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1999. Here is a map from a 1961 VDH I-64 Location Study, from Non-Indiana Highway Materials of Northwest Indiana Highways.

Route openings. The first section of I-64 to open to traffic was in Nov. 1957 with the 6-mile-long section in Hampton from VA-134 Magruder Boulevard to the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT). The 7 miles from VA-134 to VA-143 Jefferson Avenue in Newport News opened in two sections in 1959 and 1960. The 24-mile-long section from the West Virginia border to Clifton Forge was opened in 3 sections in 1964 and 1966, and the 4.4-mile-long I-64 Clifton Forge Bypass was opened in Dec. 1971. The 43-mile-long section from US-522 at Gum Spring, through Richmond, to VA-249 at Bottoms Bridge, opened in 5 sections from 1966 to 1968. The 18-mile-long section from VA-143 Camp Peary Road north of Williamsburg to VA-143 Jefferson Avenue near Williamsburg-Newport News International Airport, opened in 1965. By 1968, travelers from Richmond to the HRBT could make the 78-mile trip on 45 miles of I-64, and 33 miles of rural 4-lane highway (US-60 and VA-168) between Bottoms Bridge and Williamsburg. The 21.4 miles of I-64 from Bottoms Bridge to Anderson Corner at VA-30 was opened in Dec. 1972, and the 4.0 miles from VA-30 to VA-168 at Norge was opened in Nov. 1974, and the 6.5 miles between Norge and VA-143 was completed in Aug. 1978, completing I-64 between Richmond and the HRBT. The 22 miles of I-64 between US-460 at Wards Corner in Norfolk and Bowers Hill in Chesapeake was completed in three phases in 1967 and 1969. The 6 miles of I-64 between the HRBT and Wards Corner was completed in three sections in 1971, 1974 and 1975, with the Willoughby Spit section being the last. The original 2-lane HRBT was opened on Nov. 1, 1957, and the parallel 2-lane HRBT was opened in 1976, marking the first completion of an Interstate highway throughout the Hampton Roads area. Backing up a bit timewise, the 52.4-mile-long section of I-64 from US-250 at Crozet west of Charlottesville to US-522 at Gum Spring opened in one day in Sept. 1970, the longest single Interstate opening in the Virginia Interstate system. The 12.4 miles from I-81 to US-250 at Afton Mountain opened in Sept. 1971, and 8.0 miles from Afton Mountain to Crozet opened in Dec. 1972, marking the completion of I-64 from I-81 at Staunton to I-95 in Richmond. The 6.6-mile-long I-64 Lexington Bypass opened in Oct. 1976; the 14.6 miles from Longdale Furnace, across North Mountain, to the Lexington Bypass, opened in Oct. 1978; and the 7.9 miles from Clifton Forge to Longdale Furnace opened on June 29, 1979, closing the last gap in I-64 and completing it through Virginia. I-64 traverses over 900 miles from Saint Louis, Missouri to Norfolk, Virginia, and the last 33 miles of the entire route opened in 1988, east of Beckley, West Virginia, marking completion of the entire route in the U.S.

Traffic volumes on I-64 vary widely. VDOT 1997 traffic volume data follows. Figures are published rounded to the nearest 100. From the West Virginia border for 14 miles to Covington carries about 9,600 annual average daily traffic (AADT), and from Covington for 13 miles to Clifton Forge carries 15,400 to 22,000, and from Clifton Forge for 29 miles to I-81 at Lexington carries 8,400 to 9,400, the last section being the lowest volume Interstate highway in Virginia. Average percentages of large trucks on the 56 miles of highway from West Virginia to I-81 comprise 20% of the traffic. The 30-mile-long I-64 overlap section with I-81 carries 32,000 to 34,000 AADT with 33% large trucks. I-64 at Afton Mountain carries about 27,000 AADT with 16% large trucks, and volumes on the 37-mile-long section from I-81 at Staunton to US-250 east of Charlottesville carries from 24,000 to 34,000 AADT, with the latter at Charlottesville. The 43-mile-long section from US-250 to VA-617 at Oilville carries 22,000 to 27,000 AADT with 12% large trucks. The 19-mile-long section from VA-617 to I-95 in Richmond sees successively increasing volumes, with 40,000 at I-295, 76,000 just east of Gaskins Road, 102,000 just east of Parham Road, and 158,000 just west of the I-95 interchange. The I-95/I-64 3.20-mile-long overlap carries 126,000 with about 9% large trucks. I-64 has 6 lanes from I-295 near Short Pump to VA-156 Airport Drive, a distance of 20 miles.

I-64 volume just east of the I-95 downtown interchange is 90,000 AADT with 9% large trucks. Eastward, the volumes decrease, with 88,000 just east of Nine Mile Road, 56,000 just east of VA-156 Airport Drive, and 56,000 at I-295. The 38-mile-long section from I-295 to VA-143 Camp Peary Road at Williamsburg varies from 46,000 to 56,000 with 20% large trucks, with the lowest volume being in the area near Norge. Traffic volumes increase eastward on the 30-mile-long stretch to the HRBT, with 77,000 AADT at the Newport News/James City Co. border, 95,000 just east of VA-143 Jefferson Avenue, 96,000 AADT from US-17 to downtown Hampton, and 84,000 AADT and 9% large trucks across the 3.8-mile-long HRBT. Volume increases to 96,000 just west of I-564, 108,000 just east of VA-168, 157,000 just south of US-13, and it decreases to 106,000 at I-264. Volume ranges from 114,000 at Indian River Road to 94,000 at Greenbrier Parkway, to 82,000 just east of I-464. From I-464 to the end of I-64 at Bowers Hill (I-64/I-264/I-664 interchange), volume on I-64 ranges from 60,000 to 50,000. The entire 27-mile-long I-64 loop in South Hampton Roads averages about 9% large trucks. 

Number of lanes. These sections of I-64 were initially built with 6 lanes: The 3.2-mile-long overlap with I-95, 3 miles from Glenside Drive to I-95/I-195, 7 miles from I-95 to VA-156 Airport Drive, and 8 miles from I-564/US-460 to I-264. The rest of I-64 was initially built with 4 lanes.

In 2000, I-64 has 6 lanes for 10 miles from I-295 to I-95/I-195, and for 7 miles from I-95 to VA-156 Airport Drive. I-64 has 4 lanes east of VA-156 Airport Drive near Richmond International Airport, for 58 miles, to VA-143 Jefferson Avenue near Williamsburg-Newport News International Airport. From VA-143 to the HRBT (14 miles), I-64 has 6 lanes. The HRBT and the highway from the HRBT to I-564 has 4 lanes. From I-564 to I-264, 9 miles, the highway has 8 lanes with a 3-2-3 three-roadway arrangement with the center roadway reversible HOV-2 for peak period traffic. From I-264 to I-464, 6 miles, I-64 has 8 lanes on a standard 4-4 configuration, and the inner lane each way is HOV-2 during peak hours. From I-464 to Bowers Hill, 8 miles, the highway has 4 lanes. So as of 2000, 46 miles of I-64 has 6 or more lanes.

Major Interstate widening projects on I-64 include 7 miles from Glenside Dr. to I-295 (from 4 to 6, 1990), 6 miles from VA-134 Magruder Boulevard to the HRBT (from 4 to 6, 1988), 4 miles from VA-134 to US-17 (from 4 to 6, 1997), 4 miles from US-17 to VA-143 (from 4 to 6, 1999), 7 miles from US-17 to Hampton Roads Center Parkway (from 6 to 8, 2001), 9 miles from I-564 to I-264 (from 6 to 3-2-3, 1992), and 7 miles from I-264 to I-464 (from 4 to 8, 1998).

New interchanges added to the original I-64 are: In Henrico County, I-295 near Short Pump, Gaskins Road, and I-295 near Seven Pines. In James City County, VA-199 near Williamsburg. In Newport News, Victory Boulevard. In Hampton, Hampton Roads Center Parkway and I-664. In Chesapeake, US-13.

For 4 photos of I-64, see Interstate 64 in Virginia - Photos.

For more information and photos, see my web pages Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel (I-664) and Interstate 664 History and Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (I-64) and Bridge-Tunnel Facilities in Virginia and Hampton Roads Area Interstates and Freeways and Hampton Roads Crossing Study. See David "ZZYZX" Steinberg's Interstate 64 page for description of the national I-64 route.

Main page of Interstate Highway System in Virginia.

Copyright 2000-2007 by Scott Kozel. All rights reserved. Reproduction, reuse, or distribution without permission is prohibited.

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By Scott M. Kozel, Roads to the Future

(Created 5-31-2000, updated 7-7-2007)