Gov. Ralph Northam joined the Virginia Department of Transportation and state and local leaders Thursday to break ground on the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel expansion project.
The $3.8 billion project will increase tunnel and interstate capacity along 9.9 miles of Interstate 64 between Hampton and Norfolk, reducing congestion and easing access to the Port of Virginia and the world’s largest Naval base.
“For too long, traffic in the Hampton Roads region has bottlenecked at the tunnel,” Northam said. “Folks in this region deserve an easier, more reliable commute. This is the largest project in our history, and it will ensure that people can move around faster, that commerce flows more easily, and that we finally connect the Peninsula and the Southside. This project will make everyone’s lives easier when it is completed.”
Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine said the world’s best designers, builders and engineers are working on the expansion, and they will use the latest technology.
“We are bringing every asset to the table to give people what they may value most — time,” Valentine said.
Virginia crews will use a highly-specialized tunnel boring machine to dig through soil and construct tunnel segments simultaneously. The advanced technology is used in the construction of hprojects such as Manhattan’s Second Avenue Subway.
The new HRBT is only the fourth roadway project to use this equipment in the United States. The machinery is under construction in Germany and is expected to arrive in Hampton Roads in 2021 for assembly, which will take several months. It is expected to begin tunneling operations in early 2022.