Raised roads, surge barriers proposed to address sea level rise, flooding impact on Navy bases

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Flooding isn’t a threat typically associated with the military, yet it’s one that the U.S. Navy is facing here in Hampton Roads.

On Monday, the public got the chance to weigh in on solutions to fix it.

The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission is behind a Joint Land Use Study that looked at the effects of flooding and sea level rise on the area’s infrastructure, particularly how it impacts the military.

The studies include the cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach and the Navy who are working together to find a solution and there are some big ideas on the table.

“What we’re focusing on is the impact that recurrent flooding, coastal flood is having on our military bases in those localities,” said Bob Crum, Exec. Director for HRPDC.

HRPDC said there are over 200 miles of roadways that could be impacted by sea level rise and flooding.

Some of the most critical areas are Hampton Boulevard, Shore Drive and Sandbridge Road.

“When that happens, those roads become impacted. It’s making it more and more difficult for our military personnel to get to the bases,” Crum said.

To fix the problem, the commission wants to improve storm drains and build flood walls. Their study also proposes even bigger projects like raising sections of Hampton Boulevard.

“It’s more than just raising and elevating the roadway itself,” said Ben McFarlane, Sr. Regional Planner for HRPDC. “They’re very complicated. There’s a lot of moving parts so figuring out, scoping out what those projects would be, that’s the next step we see for those, to kind of go into that and do that engineering and design work.”

“We’ve had storm surge that has been threatening but we haven’t been flooded yet, said Jay Taylor.

Taylor is on board with the proposals. He lives near the Lafayette River where installation of an outer surge barrier is being proposed.

“They all look like good ideas to me. It’s going to be a matter of prioritizing,” Taylor said. “The worry, of course, is all of this is going to cost an awful lot of money.”

Officials say there’s not a price tag yet, but their next step is lobbying support in Richmond.

“This isn’t just about the military. This is about the community too,” Crum said. “If we’re successful in addressing these projects, it will be a benefit to all.”

There is another public meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 13 at the Sandler Center in Virginia Beach.

You can also submit your comment online until Thursday, Aug. 15.

For a link to the draft study, click here.

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