NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg recently announced that Norfolk will get $1.6 million for the Norfolk Interstate 264 reconnecting communities project.

This grant comes as part of the reconnecting communities pilot program, which has been described by officials as a “first-of-its-kind” initiative to reconnect communities that has become disadvantaged and burdened by past transportation infrastructure decisions. This is one of 45 projects receiving a share of $185 million in grant awards.

The grant awarded to Norfolk will be used to fix the “spaghetti bowl,” a 14-lane-wide jumble of I-264 ramps and interchanges that cuts a low-income and mostly Black neighborhood off from the core downtown area.

The city of Norfolk will determine the best option to fix the “spaghetti bowl” by asking for input from residents through traffic studies, surveys, an interchange access report, and a feasibility analysis.

Once completed, the revamped I-264 will allow those who live by the Elizabeth River waterfront, those who live near Norfolk State University and residents from surrounding neighborhoods better opportunities to access job centers, educational hubs, transportation resources and cultural institutions, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

It said having access to these resources will see great change within these communities, potentially leading to lower poverty levels, lower unemployment rates, and higher education.

“Transportation should connect, not divide people and communities,” Buttigieg said in a statement. “We are proud to announce the first grantees of our reconnecting communities program, which will unite neighborhoods, ensure the future is better than the past, and provide Americans with better access to jobs, health care, groceries and other essentials.” 

Along with this grant, Virginia has also received a grant for $1.35 million in Richmond for the reconnect Jackson Ward project.