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.