Interstate 895 Virginia

Routing

Virginia 895, also known as the Pocahontas Parkway, is a toll freeway connector between Interstate 95 and the Chippenham Parkway (Virginia 195) at Bensley to Interstate 295 near Richmond International Airport. The highway fills in a missing link to the Richmond area belt-system, allowing traffic entering the metropolitan area from Interstate 85 or U.S. 460 in Petersburg the opportunity to bypass downtown Richmond for points north via Interstate 95 or for points east via Interstate 64 or U.S. 360. The highway provides a direct connection from Interstate 95 to the Richmond International Airport, as the eastern terminus is only 1.5 miles to the south (expanding the eastern terminus interchange to includes ramps to an extended Airport Access Road are currently be studied)9. The highway is a toll road, due to construction costs for a high James River crossing and associated wetlands impacts, the highway carries a variable toll for all passenger vehicles. The toll freeway is owned by the Virginia Department of Transportation but was partially funded with private investment.

History

Conceived in a 1981 Department of Transportation study, Interstate 895 was planned as a connector between Chippenham Parkway / Interstate 95 with Interstate 295. A corridor was laid out in 1983 and a Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) approved in 1984. Money for preliminary engineering of the roadway was allocated in the Virginia Department of Transportation's 6-year road building plan by 1986.1 Interstate 895 was dropped from the six-year road building plan in 1987 due to cuts in federal highway aid at that time. Estimates for the $174-million route included $100 million for a James River bridge.2

By 1988, a scaled-down version of Interstate 895 was proposed but on the condition that it be tolled at a rate of $1 to $1.50 per passenger car and that tolls along the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike be extended from their planned-1992 drop date. The two plans at stake were the $175-million plan of a freeway between Interstates 95 and 295 and a $127.1-million proposal of a freeway east from the Turnpike and Chippenham Parkway to Laburnum Avenue. Had tolls been considered for the original I-895, a three-year construction project might have commenced in 1992.3

Interstate 895 was re-added to the VADOT six-year plan in 1992 as originally envisioned, linking Interstate 95 and the Chippenham Parkway with Interstate 295 east of Richmond International Airport. Funding was set aside for preliminary engineering at the time.4 Continued progress on the freeway was made by 1994 with $8 million in design money approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board. Construction dates shifted to 1999.5

Tolls were again touted for the route in 1995 under a proposal submitted under the Virginia Public-Private Transportation Act by FD/MK Ltd. The firm indicated it could build the route by 2000 at a cost of $250 million with a $2 toll for each direction.6 The Commonwealth Transportation Board unanimously approved the route as a private toll road in 1996 but estimates increased to $389 million when debt service and financing was included (these would later be recanted to $300 million).7 The firm renamed the route as Pocahontas Parkway and reduced the scale of the freeway to four lanes overall. An agreement between the state and FD/MK Ltd. was finalized on June 3, 1998, clearing the way for $324-million in road work.8

Construction of Virginia 895 (sometimes referred to as the "Airport Connector") began on October 13, 1998. Completion of the route was planned in April 2002, but it instead opened in two phases, on May 22, 2002 (for eastbound traffic) and September 20, 2002 (for westbound traffic).9

Future Aspirations

The Pocahontas Parkway (Virginia 895) is currently designated as a state highway, but throughout the 1980s and 90s, it was considered for Interstate status. The 2001 Virginia official state map showed the route under construction as Interstate 895. Subsequent maps show the route as a state highway. Planning documents and maps referred to Virginia 895 as Interstate 895, including the project location map from 2001, and the media occassionally references it as an Interstate route even today.

Virginia 895 / Pocahontas Parkway is built to Interstate standards, but the Federal Highway Administration denied granting Virginia 895 an Interstate designation after the toll freeway was completed in 2002. The reason is because the environmental document and 60% of design were paid by with federal-aid funds; the law states that federal-aid funds may be used for a toll Interstate for feasibility studies, but not design or construction. So, until the law is changed or until tolls are removed, Virginia 895 will remain as a state route.9

It is not clear what the passage of SAFETEA-LU in 2005 (with its more liberal clauses that allow tolling on the Interstate Highway System) might change in terms of adding Virginia 895 to the Interstate Highway System.

Highway Guides

Western Terminus - Interstate 95 - Bensley, Virginia
Perspective from Interstate 95 north
Northbound Interstate 95 meets Virginia 288 at Exit 62. With the recent completion of Virginia 288, Richmond now has a complete beltway around the capital city, consisting of Virginia 288 from here northwest to Interstate 64 near Short Pump; Interstate 64 east to Interstate 295; Interstate 295 east and then south to Virginia 895; Virginia 895 west to Interstate 95; and Interstate 95 south to Virginia 288. The overlap on Interstate 95 is about five miles long, from here north to Exit 67A, Junction Virginia 895 east. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (08/08/04).
Interstate 95 northbound at Exit 64, Virginia Secondary 613/Willis Road. This sign bridge includes an upcoming exits sign with the first mentioning of Virginia 895. Photo taken 06/02/03.
Now one mile south of the joint terminus of Virginia 895 west and Virginia 150 east. The two highways are both limited access routes, with Virginia 895 extending the Chippenham Parkway of Virginia 150 eastward as the tolled Pocahontas Parkway. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (08/08/04).
One-half mile south of Virginia 895/Exit 67A on Interstate 95 northbound, Virginia 150 departs via Exit 67B in one mile. The Chippenham Parkway is a six-lane freeway that connects the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike with the Powhite Parkway (Virginia 76) to the northwest. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (08/08/04).
Northbound Interstate 95 reaches Exit 67A, Junction Virginia 895 east. Traffic remaining on the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike enters the Richmond city limits in one mile and downtown in seven miles. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (08/08/04).
The second ramp in this interchange connects northbound Interstate 95 with Virginia 150/Chippenham Parkway north. The ramp to eastbound Virginia 895 dominates the view. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (08/08/04).
Several views of the Interstate 95/Virginia 895 stack interchange flyovers. This interchange requires such high ramps due to the proximity of the high-level James River Bridge of Virginia 895 to the east. The interchange is probably the Old Dominionapos:s most impressive at the present time. That distinction however, will be superceded to some capacity by the new Springfield interchange at Interstate 95apos:s merging onto the Capital Beltway in conjunction with the southern terminus of Interstate 395. There is at least one other interchange in the Northeast that may compare to this in overall stature: the mammoth interchange between Interstate 787 and U.S. 9-20 in downtown Albany, New York. Photos taken 06/02/03.
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 95 north
Interstate 64
overlap begin
8 miles at Richmond, VA
Interstate 64
overlap end/
Interstate 195
12 miles at Richmond, VA
Interstate 295 17 miles at Glen Allen, VA
Perspective from Interstate 95 south
The only access from southbound Interstate 95 at Exit 67 is the connection to westbound Virginia 150/Chippenham Parkway north to U.S. 60-360. There is no access to Virginia 895 east to the airport at this time. Photos taken by Carter Buchanan (07/01/05).
At the present time there is no access to Virginia 895 eastbound from Interstate 95 southbound. There is access to Virginia 150 westbound though. It was deemed that the ramp to Virginia 895 from Interstate 95 southbound was of low priority and predicted traffic counts. Therefore it is unclear as to when and if the flyover ramp to the Pocahontas Parkway will be constructed. In the meantime Interstate 95 southbound motorists are affordable impressive views of the associated stack interchange. Photos taken by Carter Buchanan (07/01/05) and Andy Field (06/01/03).
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 95 south
Interstate 85 16 miles at Petersburg, VA
Interstate 295 21 miles at Petersburg, VA
Interstate 40 167 miles at Benson, VA
Perspective from Virginia 150 east
Now traveling southeast on Virginia 150/Chippenham Parkway in Bensley, the first signage for the junction with Interstate 95 and Virginia 895 appear here, about three-quarters of a mile west of the interchange. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (08/08/04).
Southbound Virginia 150/Chippenham Parkway reaches U.S. 1-301/Jefferson Davis Highway south; the next exit is a loop ramp to northbound U.S. 1-301, followed by Interstate 95. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (08/08/04).
The next exit connects southbound Virginia 150 with northbound U.S. 1-301. Note that the pull-through sign is for Virginia 895 east to Interstate 295, and the right lane becomes exit only to Interstate 95 north/south. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (08/08/04).
Gaining a lane from the onramp from U.S. 1-301, the right two lanes become exit only for Interstate 95. The left two lanes will continue straight ahead onto the Virginia 895 toll road. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (08/08/04).
End Virginia 150 and begin Virginia 895 as the Chippenham Parkway transitions onto the Pocahontas Parkway (toll). Use Virginia 895 east to Interstate 295 and the Richmond International Airport. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (08/08/04).
Perspective from Virginia 895 east
The freeway ascends onto the James River Bridge, known as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge. Interstate 95 passes below Virginia 895. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (08/08/04).
Now crossing the James River via the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge, there are no control cities for Virginia 895 east. Richmond International Airport lies straight ahead, as does Interstate 295. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (08/08/04).
Reaching the height of the bridge, an overhead sign advises of the pending toll booth at the east end of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (08/08/04).
This is the first reassurance shield for Virginia 895 east. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (08/08/04).
Upon exiting the bridge, the lanes divide for the toll plaza: left lanes may use the Smart Tag, while right lanes connect to toll plazas with attendants for those paying cash. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (08/08/04).
The Virginia 895 toll plaza is situated just east of the high level James River Bridge. This photograph shows the toll rate signage and the partition of traffic between Smart Tag auto toll lanes and the cash toll lanes. VDOT reportedly tested the Smart Tag lanes with cop cars going up to 160 kilometers per hour.10 Similar to EZPass systems used in the northeast, traffic with transponders do not have to stop at the plazas, and can proceed at reasonable speeds (speed limit is 60 miles per hour) through the center lanes. Photos taken by Carter Buchanan (08/08/04).
A few meters past the split of cash toll roadway from the Smart Tag lanes, illustrating how well the Smart Tag lanes blast through on their own. Photo taken by Richard B. Rogers (12/29/02).
Perspective from Transition Ramp from Interstate 95 north to Virginia 895 east
Now on the transition ramp from northbound Interstate 95 to Virginia 895 eastbound via Exit 67A, the ramps elevate in dramatic fashion to tie into the high level James River Bridge. The James River Bridge is dedicated to the veterans of the Vietnam War. Photo taken by Richard B. Rogers (12/29/02).
The Exit 67A ramp ascends impressively to the James River Bridge of Virginia 895 eastbound. Photo taken by Richard B. Rogers (12/29/02).
Eastern Terminus - Interstate 295 - south of Richmond International Airport
Perspective from Virginia 895 east
Approaching the Virginia 5 interchange, one or two kilometers east of the toll plaza on Virginia 895. The primary point of interest is that there is no control city--instead, Interstate 295 is listed as the ultimate destination. I suppose this makes sense, as the road could probably expect usage from both northbound traffic (as I was) and southbound folks from Richmond, making the choice of control city difficult.10 Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (08/08/04).
Eastbound Virginia 895 meets Virginia 5 (New Market Road) at this interchange. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (08/08/04).
Shortly after the Virginia 5 interchange is the first advance signage for the final interchange of eastbound Virginia 895/Pocahontas Parkway: Junction Interstate 295 (two miles). Photo taken 06/01/03.
Now one mile west of the eastern end of Virginia 895, the signs for Interstate 295 feature Interstate 95 control cities in addition to Hopewell, a suburb northeast of Petersburg. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (08/08/04).
Interstate 64 advisory signage on Virginia 895 eastbound at milepost 2. Interstate 295 travels just three miles northward to a cloverleaf interchange with Interstate 64. 72 miles separates that interchange from the city limits of Norfolk via Interstate 64. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (08/08/04).
Interstate 295 sign bridge on Virginia 895 eastbound. Speed limits reduce as the Pocahontas Parkway progresses to its end. Speed limits on adjacent Interstate 295 however, are set at 65 mph. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (08/08/04).
The east and westbound lanes diverge at the eastern terminus interchange. Photo taken 06/01/03.
Split of traffic to Interstate 295 north and south. Interstate 95 is 25 miles to the south via Interstate 295 and 18 miles to the north via Interstate 295. Photo taken 06/01/03.
Interstate 295 shields and Interstate 64 trailblazer at the east end of Virginia 895. The next northbound interchange features a long collector-distributor roadway that serves both U.S. 64 and Interstate 64. Photo taken by 06/01/03.
Perspective from Interstate 295 south
As U.S. 64 and Interstate 64 traffic merges onto Interstate 295 southbound, Exit 25 signage is posted for the westbound beginning of Virginia 895. Photo taken 06/02/03.
One mile north of the eastern terminus of Virginia 895/Exit 25. Interstate 295 along with Virginia 895 are both very rural in character through this part of Henrico County. Photo taken 06/02/03.
Virginia 895 westbound begins as Interstate 295 continues south to Hopewell and Petersburg. The next southbound interchange (Exit 22) is with Virginia 5. Virginia 5 also sees an interchange with Virginia 895 to the west as well. Photo taken 06/02/03.
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 295 south
Interstate 95 25 miles at Petersburg, VA
-- --
-- --

Sources

  1. "INTERSTATE 895 EXPECTED TO MAKE COMEBACK IN 1993 ." Richmond Times-Dispatch, May 21, 1992 .
  2. "I-295 ROAD PROJECT IS DELAYED, I-895 DROPPED IN BUDGET CUTS." Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 17, 1987.
  3. "CHIPPENHAM-LABURNUM LINK SEEN AS FEASIBLE ONLY WITH TOLLS." Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 14, 1988.
  4. "COUNTDOWN CONTINUES ON TOLL ROADS." Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 14, 1992.
  5. "STATE APPROVES FUNDS FOR DESIGN OF I-895 - EASTERN CONNECTOR WOULD LINK I-95-295." Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 16, 1994.
  6. "$2 TOLL CHARGE SEEN FOR I-895 CONNECTOR - MAJOR JAMES RIVER BRIDGE PART OF PLAN." Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 16, 1994.
  7. "PRIVATE TOLL-ROAD PLAN BACKED." Richmond Times-Dispatch, March 22, 1996.
  8. "I-895 CONNECTOR DEAL CLOSED - FIRST PROJECT UNDER PUBLIC-PRIVATE TRANSPORTATION ACT." Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 4, 1998.
  9. Some background information from Scott Kozel/http://www.roadstothefuture.com/Route_895_Connector.html
  10. Email from Richard B. Rogers (01/21/03).

Page Updated October 31, 2011.