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Underpasses Under the N&W
(For more Norfolk geography tidbits, click here.)

     As recently as 1939, an underpass was considered a novelty and a marvel.  City Historian Peggy Haile McPhillips recounts Norfolk’s first railroad underpass – on Hampton Boulevard near 21st Street – which went under the N&W’s main line to and from the Lambert’s Point piers.  No fewer than five other underpasses would ultimately be constructed under that single line of N&W tracks.  No underpasses were constructed under any other railroad.  (The Virginian Railway has two overpasses over it – one at Virginia Beach Blvd., east of Ballentine Blvd, and one at Tidewater Drive, near Philpotts, shown on figure ZZZ and ZZZ [Roland Park…].) Interestingly, the only other underpasses in the city – none of which are associated with railroads – are all along Tidewater Drive, which has several underpasses (see Tidewater Drive…).

“Norfolk's First Railroad Underpass,” by City Historian, Peggy Haile McPhillips (Norfolk Public Library website, “Pages From Norfolk’s Past,” www.npl.lib.va.us/history/history_pages.html)

“Norfolk's first railroad underpass was dedicated 18 November 1939 at the Norfolk & Western Railway grade crossing on Hampton Boulevard near 21st Street.  The event was marked by a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by approximately 500 spectators, followed by a parade from 21st Street to Foreman Field Stadium, where a football game between the VMI Cadets and the University of Hampton Roads Times Magazine
      HamptonRoadsTimes.comMaryland Terrapins was played.  The entire parade route was decorated for the occasion by members of the Hampton Boulevard Business Men's Association, under the leadership of president John F. Small.  The $200,000 structure, a joint project of the City of Norfolk, Norfolk & Western Railway and the Virginia State Highway Department, took eight months to complete and was praised for ending traffic delays on both the boulevard and the railway.  Representatives from the railroad, city and civic officials and ranking military officials participating in the dedication ceremony included Norfolk Mayor John A. Gurkin, City Manager Charles Borland and Rear Admiral Joseph K. Taussig, who called the underpass 'the most beautiful structure of its kind that I have ever seen in my travels throughout the world.' Walter H. Taylor III, Director of Public Works, expressed the hope that similar structures would be built at railway crossings on Granby Street and on Colley, Colonial and Monticello Avenues.  In later years, underpasses were indeed constructed at crossings on Monticello Avenue (1951), Brambleton Avenue (1954), Tidewater Drive [Chapel St.] (1956), Virginia Beach Boulevard (1959) and Colley Avenue (1972).”


  




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