Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel expansion project is set to become the largest infrastructure project in Virginia’s history. Governor Ralph Northam launched the project along with the officials from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) on Thursday.
The $3.8 billion project will increase tunnel and interstate capacity along 9.9 miles of Interstate 64 between Hampton and Norfolk, reducing congestion and easing access to the Port of Virginia and the world’s largest Naval base.
The Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel was the first ever crossing built between two man made islands. Built in 1957, the HRBT will now act as a corridor between two thriving port communities.
The traffic on the HRBT has remained consistent even during the pandemic. Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine informed that traffic volumes have been nearly 95 percent of historic average since July.
“The world’s best designers, builders, engineers, and technology are converging here in Virginia to build your new tunnel,” said Valentine.
“We are bringing every asset to the table to give people what they may value most—time.”
The HRBT Expansion Project will add twin, two-lane bored tunnels and widen the four-lane segments of Interstate 64 in Hampton between Settlers Landing Road and the Phoebus shoreline, and in Norfolk between the Willoughby shoreline and the I-564 interchange. The bridge is used by over 100,000 drivers daily who will welcome the relief effort.
Governor Ralph Northam said that the project will literally bring people closer and retreated the ambition to invest in infrastructure in the region.
“We are making critical investment in the infrastructure of our region,” said Governor Northam.
“Travel will be safer and more reliable,” said the Governor. “We are supporting families, commerce, shipbuilding, tourism, our military and The Port of Virginia.”
A highly-specialized tunnel boring machine will be used to dig through the soil and construct tunnel segments simultaneously. The advanced technology is used in the construction of highly complex projects such as Manhattan’s Second Avenue Subway.
The new HRBT is only the fourth roadway project to use this equipment in the United States. The machinery, currently under construction in Germany, is expected to arrive in Hampton Roads in 2021. It is expected to begin tunneling operations in early 2022 after a lengthy assembling process.
A funding agreement with Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission announced in 2019 will provide 92 percent of locally sourced funding for the project. $200 million will be secured from the Commonwealth’s Smart Scale Program and $108 million will be provided by VDOT.
In addition to reducing congestion, the project will also give a huge boost to the economy. It is set to bring in more than 4.6 billion in investment and 28,000 new jobs.
The expansion project is set to be complete in November of 2025.
John is a local news reporter for the Virginia Herald. His coverage area is statewide with a focus on NOVA and Richmond area news.
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