HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – Construction crews have been busy prepping the South Island of the HRBT in Norfolk for VDOT’s largest transportation project in history – the expansion of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) and the roadways leading up to it.
Communications manager for the HRBT project Paula Miller said the prep work is slightly ahead of schedule and hasn’t slowed down during the coronavirus pandemic.
“This project hasn’t missed a beat,” she said. “We’ve been working through COVID. They’ve been working on the island, some of the early work. Maintaining social distancing, wearing masks throughout the process.”
The massive $3.8 billion undertaking will add two new tunnels, replace or rebuild more than two dozen marine bridges, widen the I-64 corridor and add new lanes and a shoulder in each direction.
The HRBT expansion project will span 10 miles of interstate from Hampton to Norfolk. The addition of twin two-lane bored tunnels west of the existing tunnels will accommodate four lanes of traffic for a total of eight lanes of capacity across the water.
The project is meant to ease major traffic jams that can be backed up for several miles during the peak summer season.
“This project will help alleviate a lot of that congestion,” Miller said. “It’ll improve safety, travel time, reliability, help us move commerce. There are a lot of benefits to this long, overdue project.”
In April 2019, the Commonwealth of Virginia signed a comprehensive agreement with Hampton Roads Connector Partners (HRCP), the design-build contractor for the project.
The project is expected to be completed in November of 2025 but will be underway soon. VDOT is currently waiting on state and federal permits, a joint permit, and anticipates having the permit in hand by next month.
“We’re excited. People are saying, 'How fast can you build it?'" Miller said. “We need the capacity. We need to be able to move more vehicles."
Work along the interstate is expected to start this fall. All lanes will remain open for drivers, but VDOT is asking people to be mindful of construction workers along the roadway.
To minimize long-term disruption to the region, work on the tunnel, bridges and interstate will be done simultaneously.
For more information about the project, click here.