Press Releases

Washington, DC – Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner today supported final passage of the FY 2010 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill which addresses a number of transportation and housing needs of the nation and the Commonwealth of Virginia. The bipartisan measure passed by a vote of 73 to 25 and will now go to conference committee with the House of Representatives. 

The measure provides funding to invest in transportation and highway infrastructure, enhance the safety of our transportation system, and spur high-speed rail development and intercity transportation. It also addresses housing needs for the elderly and disabled and makes available housing vouchers for homeless veterans in addition to others who qualify.  Further, the bill includes funds to help stem the foreclosure crisis through housing counseling efforts, and a provision to address urgent shortfalls in the Housing Choice Voucher Program, the largest federal low-income housing program.

Funding for Hampton Roads included $500,000 to replace the Lesner Bridge; $500,000 for improvements along Route 17; and $1 million to study the extension of Norfolk Light Rail.  

“Today’s funding measure will increase safety and reduce congestion on Hampton Roads’ bridges and roads as well as explore light rail opportunities in the area,” said Senator Webb. “In addition to easing Virginia’s congestion problems, today’s bill injects capital into local communities and provides increased support for our nation’s most vulnerable.”

“These funds will support public housing services and help distressed homeowners avoid foreclosure. In addition, these one-time funds will help Hampton Roads address several of the region’s most notorious traffic chokepoints,” Senator Warner said. “Funding will replace an aging bridge on Route 17 in Chesapeake that routinely causes frustrating backups. Funds also will be used to help address saltwater corrosion issues that have created safety concerns for motorists using the Lesner Bridge, the only major east-west link in the northern part of Virginia Beach. In addition, I am pleased we were able to secure funds to study the expansion of light rail – ‘The Tide’ – from Norfolk into Virginia Beach.”

Notable Virginia Transportation/ HUD Projects Funded in the Bill:

Lesner Bridge Replacement; City of Virginia Beach, Virginia; $500,000

  • Funding will be used to replace the Lesner Bridge in Virginia Beach, VA.  Due to the approximately 41,000 cars and trucks that cross the bridge daily, federal inspectors rated the Lesner Bridge’s superstructure and substructure almost identical to that of the Interstate-35 bridge in Minneapolis shortly before it collapsed in 2007.  Inspectors have noted saltwater seepage, as well as concrete cracking and corrosion, which all threaten the strength of the structure.

United States Route 17/Dominion Boulevard; City of Chesapeake, Virginia; $500,000

  • Funding will be used for the design and implement improvements to Dominion Boulevard from Cedar Road to Great Bridge Boulevard, including replacement of the existing steel bridge.  US Route 17/Dominion Boulevard spans approximately 6.5 miles connecting U.S. Route 17 South with Interstate 64.  The existing corridor includes a 2-lane draw bridge with frequent openings for maritime traffic.  Service on this section of roadway has deteriorated to one of the most congested corridors in the region and currently operates at a level of service F.  In fact, the existing roadway is designed to carry approximately 7,500 vehicles per day – current traffic counts exceed 33,000 vehicles per day.  In addition to moving commuter traffic through the City of Chesapeake, the corridor is significant because it serves as an emergency evacuation route for northeastern North Carolina, and also carries defense related traffic to the numerous military installations within the region.  

Naval Station Norfolk/Virginia Beach Light Rail Study; Norfolk, Virginia; $1,000,000

  • Funds will be used to study and determine the feasibility of extending Norfolk Light Rail to Naval Station Norfolk and Virginia Beach as part of a new fixed guide-way regional public transit network, increasing mobility options, contributing to energy and natural resource conservation, and strengthening the regional economy.  The study will guide design, engineering and construction of extensions to the first light rail system in Virginia, now under construction in Norfolk.