Virginia DOT agrees to pay up to $500M for repairs to Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel infrastructure
- The Virginia Department of Transportation has agreed to pay $300 million to $500 million for repair of trestles under a bridge that will connect to the new $3.8 billion Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, relieving taxpayers of the burden, according to WVEC-TV.
- The bridge lanes were constructed in the 1950s and 1970s, according to WAVY, and the trestles have eroded at the bridge's pilings and must be replaced or, at the very least, upgraded. VDOT officials said it conducts regular inspections of the span and that the bridge is safe for motorists to use "with no limitations."
- Virginia state law, according to Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization Chairman Tom Shepperd, created the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission to fund new construction projects only and that the agency was not allowed to finance repairs to existing infrastructure. In addition, all of the money for the new bridge-tunnel has been allocated, according to Shepperd, although contractor procurement is not expected to begin until spring. The conversation around trestle repair or replacement will continue at the next commission meeting in November.
The two public-private partnership teams in the running for the project, according to the VDOT, are Hampton Roads Capacity Constructors (Fluor Corp., The Lane Construction Co., Traylor Brothers, Bouygues Construction, and AECOM) and Hampton Roads Connector Partners (Dragados USA, Vinci Construction Grands Projets, Dodin Campenon Bernard SAS, Mott MacDonald and HDR Engineering).
In August, Virginia transportation officials announced that they had chosen the bored-tunnel construction method for the new bridge-tunnel after both competing teams informed them that it was their preferred method and the basis of their proposals. This is the first VDOT project to use the bored-tunnel method, although the relatively nearby $756 million Parallel Thimble Shoal Tunnel, now in progress at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, is also using bored-tunnel construction.
Tunnel boring machines reportedly will be able to carve a path with less damage to the environment than if department officials had elected to use the immersed tube method, which would have necessitated digging a mile-long trench in the riverbed. The bored-tunnel method also has the advantage of allowing shipping activity in the harbor to continue with fewer disruptions.
The project itself will consist of the construction of a four-lane tunnel and widening of an existing four-lane portion of Interstate 64 to eight lanes between Hampton, Virginia, and Norfolk, Virginia. The new tunnel will accommodate eastbound traffic and will use dynamic tolling and one or more high-occupancy lanes in each direction.
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