Interstate 895 Virginia
Virginia Route 895 / Pocahontas Parkway is a toll highway connecting Interstate 95 and Chippenham Parkway (SR 195) at Bensley with Richmond International Airport (RIC) and I-295. The expressway forms part of a belt route encircling Richmond, allowing traffic entering the Richmond area from Interstate 85 or U.S. 460 at Petersburg the opportunity to bypass the capital city for points north via I-95 or for points east via I-64. Due to construction costs for the high level bridge spanning the James River and associated wetlands impacts, Pocahontas Parkway was built as a toll highway partially funded by private investment.
Originating in a 1981 Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) study, Interstate 895 was planned as a connector from Chippenham Parkway / I-95 to I-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 VDOT’s six year road building plan by 1986.1 Cost estimates for the freeway topped $174 million, with $100 million for the James River bridge alone. However due to cuts in federal highway aid, Interstate 895 was dropped from the six year road building plan in 1987.2 If tolls were considered, three years of construction for I-895 may have commenced in 1992.3
A scaled down version of Interstate 895 was proposed by 1988, but with the conditions 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 beyond 1992, when they were scheduled for removal. Alternatives considered were a $175 million plan for a highway between I-95 and I-295, and a $127.1 million proposal of a highway east from the I-95 and Chippenham Parkway to Laburnum Avenue.3
The original plans for Interstate 895 between I-95/SR 150 and I-295 were added again to the VADOT six year plan in 1992. Funding was set aside for preliminary engineering at the time.4 $8 million in funds for design work were approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board in 1994. Construction dates shifted to 1999.5
SR 895 – Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)
Source: 2018 AADT VDOT Traffic Volume
A proposal submitted under the Virginia Public-Private Transportation Act by FD/MK, Ltd. in 1995 included the option of tolling the new highway. The firm indicated it could build the route by 2000 at a cost of $250 million if tolls were charged at $2.00 in 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 (cost estimates were later be recanted to $300 million).7 The firm renamed the route 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
Also known as the Airport Connector, construction of State Route 895 commenced on October 13, 1998. Completion of the route was planned in April 2002. It instead opened in two phases, with eastbound traffic using the toll road on May 22, 2002. Pocahontas Parkway westbound was completed on September 20, 2002.9
The 2001 Virginia official state map labelled SR 895 under construction as Interstate 895. Subsequent maps show the toll road as a state route. Planning documents and the project location map for SR 895 in 2001 also referred to Pocahontas Parkway as I-895.
SR 895 / Pocahontas Parkway is built to Interstate standards, but the Federal Highway Administration denied granting the toll road an Interstate designation because the environmental document and 60% of design costs were paid with federal-aid funds. The law stated that federal-aid funds may be used for a toll Interstate for feasibility studies, but not for design or construction.9
East End – – Henrico County, Virginia
West End – Bensley, Virginia
- “Interstate 895 Expected to Make Comeback in 1993 .” Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA), May 21, 1992 .
- “I-295 Road Project is Delayed, I-895 dropped in Budget Cuts.” Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA), July 17, 1987.
- “Chippenham-Laburnum Link Seen as Feasible Only With Tolls.” Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA), July 14, 1988.
- “Countdown Continues on Toll Roads.” Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA), June 14, 1992.
- “State Approves Funds for Design of I-895 – Eastern Connector Would Link I-95-295.” Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA), December 16, 1994.
- “$2 Toll Charge Seen for I-895 Connector – Major James River Bridge Part of Plan.” Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA), December 16, 1994.
- “Private Toll-Road Plan Backed.” Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA), March 22, 1996.
- “I-895 Connector Deal Closed – First Project Under Public-Private Transportation Act.” Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 4, 1998.
- Route 895 – Pocahontas Parkway. Roads to the Future (Scott Kozel).
- Email from Richard B. Rogers (01/21/03).
Page updated July 27, 2021.