- Pete Reilly, the Virginia DOT's deputy project director for the $3.8 billion Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel expansion on Tuesday gave the Norfolk, Virginia, City Council briefing on its status. City Manager Larry Filer II, said this is the third project update to the city council thus far.
- Reilly, who was with the US Army Corps of Engineers for 30 years before he joined the VDOT, said the project is still in the permitting stage but that it is moving at a fast pace toward construction. The design-build team, Hampton Road Connector Partners (HRCP), is currently working on the engineering required to start work on the launching pit where the tunnel boring machine will be staged. HRCP is also conducting technical and geographic surveys in support of its design.
- Construction, Reilly said, should begin in the spring and take approximately 55 months to complete. The tunnel boring will take just over two years. Final completion of both tunnel and roadway improvements is scheduled for November 2025.
Reilly also addressed how the project is meeting its diversity goals. To date, HRCP has awarded 77 disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) and small, women- and minority-owned (SWAM) contracts totaling more than $22 million, with "a significant number" going to companies based in Virginia. Thirty of those businesses are in the Hampton Roads area. The DBE and SWAM contracts represent 20% and 12% of the project respectively, and Reilly said the VDOT expects those numbers to increase as the project moves forward.
In order to increase small business participation on the project, he told the council, HRCP, the VDOT, USDOT and other state and local agencies have hosted the first of four workshops to help construction companies get bonded. These surety bond workshops, Reilly said, not only connect businesses with industry experts who are able to give them helpful advice about their businesses but provide them with information about opportunities on the HRBT project. The design-build team, which includes Dragados USA, Vinci Construction, Flatiron Constructors, Dodin Campenon Bernard, HDR and Mott MacDonald, is also working with local economic development officials on an upcoming career fair.
The Hampton Roads project, Reilly said, is only the fourth bored roadway tunnel project in the U.S., behind ones in Miami, Seattle and the Chesapeake Bay, also in Virginia. The diameter of the tunnel boring machine is about four stories and its length the size of a football field. The tunnels' openings, approximately 45 feet, make them the second-largest in the U.S. for a tunnel boring machine. The tunnels will be 50 feet deeper than the existing ones, and, when the project is over, there will be two tunnels in each direction.
When the project is complete, in addition to the new tunnels, crews will have replaced both tunnel approaches and trestle bridges and will have widened and improved four miles of roadway on the Norfolk side and one mile on the Hampton, Virginia side.
The Hampton Roads Transportation Fund is paying for 95% of the expansion with regional gas and sales taxes that are already being collected, and Virginia's SMART SCALE program is pitching in $200 million. The VDOT is also spending $108 million to replace trestle bridges on the Norfolk side of the project.