HRBT expansion project in Virginia, US begins

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The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has broken ground on the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) Expansion Project. 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 highly complex projects such as Manhattan’s Second Avenue Subway.

The US $3.8bn 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.

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.

In addition to alleviating congestion for motorists, the completed project will benefit tourism, the Port of Virginia, and the military—three critical industries in Hampton Roads. The expansion is projected to bolster the economic competitiveness of in Hampton Roads with more than US $4.6bn in investments and an estimated 28,000 new jobs over the life of the project.

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Support from the Commonwealth of Virginia

The project has received support from the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission (HRTAC), federal, and local partners. Design-build contractor Hampton Roads Connector Partners (HRCP) received Notice to Proceed for full construction activities in September. The project is expected to be completed in November 2025.

A Project Administration and Funding Agreement with HRTAC first announced in April 2019 commits 92% of locally-sourced funding for the expansion. Additional financing includes US $200m from the Commonwealth’s SMART SCALE program and US $108m from VDOT.

The Commonwealth has worked to maximize the participation of Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) and Small, Women-owned, and Minority-owned (SWaM) businesses across the Commonwealth on the performance of contracts for this historic project. More than 160 DBE and SWaM agreements have been executed so far as part of the project, representing more than US $87m in contract awards.

The HRBT Expansion Project will add twin, two-lane bored tunnels and widen the four-lane segments of Interstate 64 in Hampton between Settlers Landing Road and the Phoebus shoreline, and in Norfolk between the Willoughby shoreline and the I-564 interchange. More than 100,000 vehicles currently use this facility during peak travel periods.