Wednesday, July 6, 2022

HRBT expansion project reaches critical milestone

The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. (WYDaily/Courtesy of VDOT)
The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. (WYDaily/Courtesy of VDOT)

VDOT has issued Notice to Proceed to Hampton Roads Connector Partners to begin building the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Expansion project, department officials announced Thursday.

That means the builder can start interstate and tunnel work in the 9.9-mile project corridor.

This comes just a month after HRCP received all necessary state and federal permits to start work in waterways and along Interstate 64 between Hampton and Norfolk.

“Acquiring the permits for a project of this magnitude in 16 months was a remarkable effort. The coordination and collaboration among HRCP, federal and state agencies, and VDOT was a key to the success,” Jim Utterback, HRBT Expansion project director, said in a prepared statement. “Our goal is to continue this collaboration as we issue NTP and move into detailed design and construction of the project.”

Comprehensive and funding agreements for the $3.8 billion project, which will add twin two-lane tunnels next to the existing HRBT and widen I-64, were signed in April 2019. The Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission oversees funding of the project, which is being financed with regional sales and gas tax collections, and includes $200 million from the Commonwealth’s SMART SCALE transportation prioritization program, where it ranked first in the following categories: congestion, access to jobs, multimodal access, intermodal access, and travel time reliability, according to a news release from VDOT.

Until now, HRCP’s work was limited to geotechnical borings and early work on the HRBT South Island to prepare the site for the Tunnel Boring Machine, which will launch from the island in early 2022, and begin the excavation of two new tunnels.

With the start of construction, motorists can expect to see pile driving activity in the water for the replacement and widening of bridges along the interstate, and North and South Island expansion as early as this fall. Two lanes of travel will be maintained in both directions at all times, VDOT officials said.

In addition to bringing much-needed congestion relief and providing travel time reliability to the corridor, the expansion project is designed to enhance safety, improve hurricane evacuation routes, and ensure military and maritime readiness.

Most of the construction and tunneling will occur over a 55-month period between late 2020 and 2025. Motorists should pay attention to new interstate signs and electronic message boards detailing roadwork ahead and be mindful of crews working behind concrete barriers on the interstate, according to VDOT.

The project is expected to bring between 1,200 – 1,500 construction-related jobs to the region. For more information about the HRBT Expansion, click here.

John Mangalonzohttp://wydaily.com
John Mangalonzo (john@localdailymedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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