The Reconstruction of Military Highway
Michael Baker Corporation, Virginia Beach
the country now preparing to go to war, the same thing was occurring
over sixty years ago with the advent of World War II. The military
build up meant more people locating in the area, and with people
comes cars, plenty of them. So many in fact the City of Norfolk
could not keep up with the growth. The military needed to move
men and material fast and could not be bogged down in traffic.
So, Federal, state and city officials put their heads together
and came up with a plan to build a more efficient highway to
alleviate traffic problems. All parties agreed on a 15-mile
long section, from Chesapeake to Taussig Boulevard in Norfolk.
The proposed "super" highway, named Military Highway,
was designed and built in 1943 for approximately $2.5 million.
Military Highway can lay claim to a lot of "firsts."
It was one of the first multi-lane (4-lanes, two in each direction)
constructed in the area. The new roadway included several overpasses,
bridges, interchanges and a traffic circle. The cloverleaf interchange
constructed at Military Highway and Virginia Beach Boulevard
was the first ever built in the state.
After the war, businesses and residential development soared.
With the development of Janaf Shopping Center, Military Circle
Mall, Best Square Shopping Center and other large developments
brought thousands of additional people into the area to live,
work and shop. With the influx of people came even more cars.
More than 50,000 vehicles traveled along Military Highway daily
with 67,000 vehicles expected by the year 2010. The old "super"
highway could no longer support the increased traffic volumes.
The existing lanes were insufficient to handle the traffic and
the bridges, especially the one at the Military Highway/Virginia
Beach Boulevard cloverleaf, which had physically deteriorated
to a point where restricting commercial vehicles, due to their
weight, and reduction of speed was necessary.
Once again a call to arms was sounded, but this time it was
to rebuild Military Highway. The City and the Virginia Department
of Transportation both agreed that a major road and bridge rebuild
was necessary. VDOT hired Michael Baker Jr., Inc. (formerly
C.E. Maguire and Maguire Associates, Inc.) of Virginia Beach,
Virginia to prepare conceptual design study and perform final
roadway and bridge design. The project limits were from I-264
to I-64 at Robin Hood Road. Work commenced on the project in
1985 beginning with the preparation of the Conceptual Studies
Report. The report included analysis of all traffic movements
and lane configurations necessary to provide adequate level
of service for design year 2005.
of the analysis were used in developing alternate roadway designs
and layouts. At-grade intersections, flyovers, urban, cloverleaf
and diamond interchange were all considered. Plans were completed,
public meetings held, and a decision made on the final design.
There would be 10 lanes from I-264 to Military Circle Shopping
Center, eight lanes to Princess Anne Road/Northampton Boulevard
and six lanes to I-64 and Robin Hood Road. The bridges over
I-264 and Curlew Drive were to be new construction, building
one side, then the other. The cloverleaf interchange and bridge
at the Virginia Beach Boulevard interchange was removed and
replaced with a Single Point Urban Interchange or SPUI. This
was another first for the area. The SPUI was the first of its
kind to be built in the area. The new structure replacing the
original bridge is 478 feet long and 121 feet wide. It is a
three span structure with the center span measuring 218 feet.
Minimum clearance of 16'-6" was met. Approximately 1000'
of reinforced cantilevered retaining wall was constructed.
Major utility relocations were considered and designed, including
replacing two 48" raw water mains. Maintenance and protection
of traffic during construction presented major design challenges.
Plans were developed to ensure a safe transition from one stage
to the next. Feedback from citizens and business were considered
while developing the plans. Regular meetings with civic leagues
and area businesses were conducted to solicit feedback concerning
design issues, construction concerns and project scheduling.
The road and bridge plans were completed in December 1995.
Construction began the following year with the contract being
awarded to E.V. Williams of Virginia Beach, Virginia. The construction
costs were on target and within budget and time allotted. In
fact, the contractor completed the project earlier than planned.
The official completion date was June 1999. To quote the Honorable
Paul D. Fraim, Mayor of Norfolk, "The Military Highway
corridor renovation is perhaps one of the most challenging and
yet rewarding projects that the City of Norfolk has ever faced.
By communicating and building partnerships with the Virginia
Department of Transportation, contractors, area businesses and
residents, the project was a success."
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