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Project widens lanes, awaiting machine to build tunnel: The latest on the HRBT Expansion Project

HRBT expansion project.png
Posted at 3:21 PM, Jul 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-06 17:51:38-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Work on the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Expansion Project has been going on since breaking ground in late October, and things are really moving along, according to Annalysce Baker, communications director for the expansion project with the Virginia Department of Transportation.

“We are really picking up on construction,” Baker said. “We're having a lot work taking place on the North Island and the South Island, and also throughout the roadway in Hampton and Norfolk."

Some of the work you can see, and some you cannot.

"We've started widening I-64, and of course we're waiting for the arrival of the TBM, the tunnel-boring machine,” Baker explained.

The TBM will dig out a new tunnel, a major piece of the project. Baker said the TBM should arrive later this year.

At nearly $4 billion, the expansion is already in its seventh month after the groundbreaking in late October, but it has been in talks for roughly two years.

The whole reason for the expansion is to alleviate congestion and improve traffic flow. The HRBT opened in 1957 with one tunnel. A second tunnel was added in 1976.

In the short term, you can expect more traffic headaches, however.

"They need to be very mindful that there are going to be delays, and they need to plan their commutes,” Baker said. "One way they can do that is by calling 511."

She added that information such as closures is also posted on the HRBT Expansion Project’s website. The project is expected to be done by November 2025.

"Please be patient with us. We are working to build a better drive,” Baker said. “We understand that the traffic is very heavy in this area, but we are working on that every day."

Drivers should also follow posted speed limits. Speeding in a work zone can you land you a fine of up to $500.

Also, look out for work crews and vehicles going in and out of work zones. Signs and road markings should be obeyed, and drivers should leave room between themselves and other vehicles because unexpected stops can happen.

Traffic flow can also change as a result of changes in traffic patterns.