NBC12, JENNIFER BLAKE
The Federal Highway Administration has “conditionally approved” the $2 to $3 million I-64 Short Pump Interchange Project, allowing it to move forward.
The only condition this project needs to meet is the environmental study. It will bring new ramps from I-64 to North Gayton Road and update the Broad Street exits to improve safety, efficiency and provide more pedestrian-friendly walkways.
“Yes, this will improve efficiency, it will improve congestion, but most importantly, it will improve safety for everybody,” said Michael Palkovics, the Assistant Chief of Police for Henrico County.
Data found at the beginning of this project shows the number of fatal accidents at or around the current Broad Street and Short Pump interchange continues to rise.
“We just had another, so we’re up to eight, so it’s critical, safety-wise, to bring a team together that is from state, federal and local and put all politics aside,” said Tommy Branin, the district supervisor for Three Chopt. “We all represent the same people and came together as a team, and it’s fantastic.”
The environmental study will show “fatal flaws” and “environmentally sensitive areas” that would be impacted by this project. Director of Public Works Terrell Hughes said the county hopes to conduct the environmental study and the design process simultaneously.
“Funding’s in place, and we’re just going to go through the process, and as challenges come up, we’ll work through it,” Hughes said. “We’re not expecting to run into anything. I think the biggest piece we’ll probably need to work through on the environmental side is the installation of some sound walls or noise walls.”
The noise walls would protect the surrounding neighborhoods and shopping centers from hearing the busy traffic. U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger sent a video message from Washington about the teamwork to make this project a reality.
“I think the county is providing a blueprint for how to deliver for our communities, how to gather feedback and how to listen to neighbors and how to work with everyone, federal, state and local, to get it done,” said Spanberger.
If everything goes as planned, North Gayton Road will be the first area to see construction. Leaders are hopeful that work will be completed by 2030.
Officials say there will be plenty of opportunity for public input throughout the project.