Do you have dinner plans in Hampton? Are you a truck driver trying to get from the Port of Virginia to I-95? A universal groan is heard as we all hit the daily six-mile backup to Granby Street from the east side of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel (HRBT). The HRBT regularly sees 85,000 trips per day, climbing to 100,000 during the summer months on a system that was only designed to support 70,000.
For almost two decades the Patriot’s Crossing has been the region’s most recommended option for additional harbor-crossing capacity in Hampton Roads. Unfortunately, there has been little movement in advancing this important infrastructure project. Analysis has shown it would provide the most significant relief for the region by improving congestion and connectivity and stimulating economic growth. Moreover, it is the best option for both manmade and natural environments. While being the most economical option, the Patriot’s Crossing is also the easiest to implement. The region’s extraordinary need to be able to move goods, services and people from one side of the harbor to the other is not just an economic priority: it is also a priority for our military.
Craig Quigley, Executive Director of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance, recently commented that “the military is in the business of moving large quantities of people and equipment into and out of the area. We risk the departure of some military assets from Hampton Roads if we do not continuously work to improve the surface traffic flow in the region. The Patriot’s Crossing is the best option to meet these needs.”
It is also critical to the expansion of the Port of Virginia. According to Port officials, the Patriot’s Crossing would provide much needed additional capacity between the Southside and the Peninsula. It would provide a first mile/last mile connection amongst current and future Port of Virginia facilities and result in the largest reduction in future truck delay.
Numerous findings, to include, the 2010 Virginia Modeling Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) study, show that the best use of Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) dollars is to build a third crossing to ease congestion rather than to expand the existing HRBT.
Though we know that we have many obstacles to overcome, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce is growing increasingly concerned that the collective will for this project is flagging. We need your help to advance the infrastructure of Hampton Roads with improved connectivity. We must establish this as the top transportation infrastructure priority. Not only is Patriot’s Crossing a key benefit to our many Defense Department partners, the Port, and economic development by attracting new business opportunities: we need to enhance the quality of life of our residence and support their welfare by providing an alternative hurricane evacuation route while addressing the reduction of general congestion and lost commerce.
The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce’s Regional Board of Directors stands strong and united on this subject. This project is viewed to be so critical that they have once again unanimously voted to endorse the project. The resolution reads: “The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce re-endorses the Third Crossing / Patriots Crossing as the priority harbor crossing improvement program strategy as the best alternative for relieving congestion crossing Hampton Roads and best facilitating economic growth and vitality in the region. This solution should be pursed as quickly as possible.”
Easing the transportation constraints of Hampton Roads is critical to everyone’s economic success and prosperity in the coming years. After 20 years of discussion, it is time to see real movement. We must have the vision of our forefathers – those Patriots who placed Hampton Roads at the epicenter of America over 300 years ago. Patriot’s Crossing time has come.
Bryan K. Stephens is the president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and can be reached at 664-2535.