According to jibin123, Hampton Roads is the name of a conurbation in Virginia, consisting of a number of major cities surrounding the Hampton Roads, a natural harbor and confluence of estuaries. The city of Norfolk is usually considered the center and has a population of 235,000. However, the largest city is Virginia Beach with 457,000 inhabitants. The entire agglomeration has 1,803,000 inhabitants (2021).
The interchange between I-64 and I-264 in Norfolk.
The agglomeration is quite striking due to the lack of small suburbs, almost all cities have more than 100,000 inhabitants. Its largest suburb, Virginia Beach, is even bigger than the central city of Norfolk itself, as well as many other well-known American cities. The conurbation is situated around the so-called Hampton Roads, a strait where various estuaries and the Chesapeake Bay converge. Norfolk is an important port city, especially for container and coal handling. The largest US naval base is also located in the city. South of the city is the Dismal Swamp, a large swamp on the border with North Carolina.
The agglomeration measures about 60 kilometers from east to west and 55 kilometers from north to south, but has a lot of water surface, which makes the agglomeration large in terms of population size. The city is 135 kilometers southeast of Richmond and 150 miles south of Washington. The city is also located 245 kilometers northeast of Raleigh.
The highway network of the Hampton Roads region.
Due to the presence of the James, Elizabeth and York Rivers estuaries, as well as the Chesapeake Bay which flows into the Atlantic Ocean, there are a number of bridges and tunnels in the conurbation. I-64 is the only outbound highway that crosses the Hampton Roads via a bridge-tunnel combination. The I-664 ring road does the same. I-264 crosses the Elizabeth River via a tunnel and bridge and US 13 crosses this bay via the long Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. In addition, there are some other smaller bridges.
The highway network is formed by a number of Interstate Highways. I-64 and I-664 form the beltway, and I-264 forms the main east-west route. I-464 connects Chesapeake to Norfolk. US 13 is a partial highway and highway in the metropolitan area. SR-164 connects Portsmouth to I-664. SR-168 forms Norfolk’s southern approach road.
The development of the main road network in the region is characterized by the tunnels and bridges, which often later led Interstate Highways over or through. In 1952, the Downtown Tunnel, the region’s first permanent river crossing, opened between Portsmouth and Norfolk. This connection was originally single-tube. At the same time, the Berkeley Bridge in Norfolk also opened. In 1957, the first tube of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel opened, over which I-64 would later run. In 1962, the Midtown Tunnel, a bit further north, also opened between Portsmouth and Norfolk. In the mid-1960s, most of I-264 was opened. The section from Norfolk to Virginia Beach was originally a toll road and opened to traffic in 1967. I-64 around Norfolk was mainly opened between 1967 and 1969. In 1964, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, which was then a single-lane, two-lane road, opened. In 1976 the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel was doubled and in 1988 and 1989 the Downtown Tunnel and Berkeley Bridge were doubled. The western Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel through which I-664 runs opened to traffic in 1992. The highway network has not expanded much since then, other than State Route 168 as a toll road in Chesapeake.
Between 2012 and 2016, the Midtown Tunnel was doubled to two tubes, the Downtown Tunnel renovated, and US 58 extended as a freeway to I-264. The projects were carried out under a concession.
Traffic jams are quite common as the road network around Norfolk is built rather cramped to outdated design requirements, especially around the interchange with I-264 and I-464 in Norfolk. I-264 also handles a lot of traffic from the huge suburb of Virginia Beach. In addition, the river crossings usually only have 2×2 lanes, which can cause traffic jams.