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VA Announces Contractor for $3.3B Tunnel Project

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

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Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam recently announced the contractor spearheading work on the construction of two new tunnels and widening a highway in the Hampton Roads area, a project that is slated to cost $3.3 billion and is geared toward alleviating traffic congestion.

According to The Washington Post, the improvements to the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, one of the largest projects in the commonwealth’s history, is largely being funded by regional gas and sales taxes, tolls and other options.

HRBT History

The already-in-place 3.5-mile facility is composed of a couple of two-lane immersed tube tunnels—the westbound lanes opening in 1957, the eastbound lanes opening in 1976—with trestle bridges running to the shore. According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, these tunnels are roughly 7,500 feet long, and traffic on all four lanes can exceed 100,000 vehicles per day during the worst of summer traffic.

SchuminWeb, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam recently announced the contractor spearheading work on the construction of two new tunnels and widening a highway in the Hampton Roads area, a project that is slated to cost $3.3 billion and is geared toward alleviating traffic congestion.

The artificial islands were built to provide a transition area from the bridge to the tunnel; at the time the facility was built, the HRBT was the world’s longest immersed-tube tunnel, and was also the first of its kind to be built between two artificial islands. (The islands were made by Merritt-Chapman & Scott.)

When the tunnel was built, it was set in 23 sections and welded together, forming over a mile of steel tube. During the final parts of construction, the tubes were squared off with ceilings of pre-formed metal.

Recent Developments, Expansion Work

Earlier this month, Northam announced that Hampton Roads Connector Partners as the consortium to win the contract for the work. The consortium is led by the U.S. arm of Spanish construction firm Dragados, with HDR and Mott MacDonald serving as lead designers, and Flatiron Construction, Vinci Construction and Dodin Campenon Bernard also slated to work on the project.

Plans for the project include a boring machine to dig underneath the soft floor of a commercial and military channel. Choosing this construction method will cut down on interruptions to shipping traffic. Another set of two-lane tunnels will also be added. During rush hour, the four lanes of Interstate 64 will expand to eight. The Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission was named as the primary funder of the work. VDOT will fund replacement of the bridge trestles on the Norfolk side.

“This project supports and expands critical transportation infrastructure, creating opportunity for families, military personnel, and businesses in the Hampton Roads region,” said Northam.

“I am proud of the hard work and negotiations that have taken place over this past year to deliver significant improvements that will relieve daily congestion, increase safety, and drive economic growth throughout this important corridor.”

Construction is slated for completion in November 2025. Tolls will be charged on the new tunnels, though the old ones will remain free to use.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Construction; Government; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Tunnel

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