Tuesday, August 9, 2022

VDOT, funeral home complete grave relocation work near interchange project

Markers after their placement on relocated graves in a small cemetery near the I-64/I-264 Interchange Improvements Project on Kempsville Road in Norfolk. (Southside Daily/Courtesy of VDOT)
Markers after their placement on relocated graves in a small cemetery near the I-64/I-264 Interchange Improvements Project on Kempsville Road in Norfolk. (Southside Daily/Courtesy of VDOT)

NORFOLK — A funeral home working for the Virginia Department of Transportation has relocated 11 graves in a small cemetery near construction of the I-64/I-264 Interchange Improvements Project.

The work by funeral home R.W. Baker & Company marked the culmination of VDOT’s mission to protect the memory of the deceased and their part in Hampton Roads’ cultural history, VDOT officials said.

Anthropological staff late last year confirmed the presence of several unmarked graves where an access road will be built for inspection of the interchange project. VDOT used ground-penetrating radar in 2017 and further examined the soil in December 2018 to identify the likely location of each burial site, officials said.

The funeral home relocated the graves in late April and this week completed its work by placing a new granite headstone at each of the previously unmarked graves that it moved.

While 11 graves required relocation, the entire cemetery includes nearly two dozen marked graves, four with headstones prior to VDOT’s involvement. The oldest stone dates to the 1930s, and some of the other graves appeared older still. No living relatives of the people buried in the cemetery have been found, officials said.

A marker after its placement on relocated graves in a small cemetery near the I-64/I-264 Interchange Improvements Project on Kempsville Road in Norfolk. (Southside Daily/Courtesy of VDOT)
A marker after its placement on relocated graves in a small cemetery near the I-64/I-264 Interchange Improvements Project on Kempsville Road in Norfolk. (Southside Daily/Courtesy of VDOT)

VDOT and the funeral home found space within the original cemetery to accommodate all of the relocated graves. The cemetery is on the east side of Kempsville Road, just south of the I-264 overpass. It is not affiliated with any nearby churches.

A Norfolk Circuit Court order was issued to the department for the relocation.

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