Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Expansion

south trestles of hampton roads bridge-tunnel

Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Expansion

Largest Transportation Project in Virginia History Increases Capacity with New Tunnels, Interstate Widening

When it opened in 1957, the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel replaced a ferry service and hosted traffic which quickly outpaced projections by tens of thousands. The 3.5-mile crossing — the first to run between two man-made islands — connected a region whose population has grown to 1.7 million people.

Daily multiple-mile backups at the bridge-tunnel prompted the Virginia Department of Transportation and area leaders to undertake the largest transportation project in the history of the commonwealth of Virginia. The $3.8 billion design-build project will widen a nearly 10-mile corridor to accommodate new HOT lanes through the nearby sections of I-64 and includes the addition of a new pair of bored tunnels.

VDOT awarded the project to Hampton Roads Connector Partners, a joint venture of Dragados USA, Flatiron Constructors, Vinci Construction and Dodin Campenon Bernard. HDR and Mott MacDonald formed a Design JV, with HDR as the managing partner. As the Design JV lead, HDR is responsible for overall management of the design. Our scope includes roadway widening; design of 27 bridge replacements and widenings; geotechnical design; drainage design; utilities support; environmental compliance; as well as ITS, lighting and signal design.

Breaking the Gridlock

The existing 3.5-mile bridge and tunnel facility connects the cities of Hampton and Norfolk. Each city is connected by a pair of two-lane trestle bridges to an artificial island — Hampton is connected to the North Island and Norfolk to South Island. The islands in turn are connected via two 2-lane immersed-tube tunnels. Traffic on these four lanes exceeds 100,000 vehicles per day during peak summer traffic.

The expansion includes the design and construction of improvements to the I-64 corridor that starts just west of Mallory Street Interchange in Hampton and ends just east of Patrol Road in Norfolk. The project will add a third lane and a part-time drivable shoulder to I-64 in each direction and a new pair of bored tunnels that will increase capacity from the current four tunnel lanes to eight. Altogether, the work will involve 9.9 miles of interstate widening and 3.5 miles of combined trestle and tunnel, expanding the crossing from the current four lanes to six lanes on land and eight lanes over and under the water.

The project's tunnel boring machine, dubbed Mary, began excavation from a launch pit on the South Island and will work its way to the North Island, which was nearly doubled in size as part of the expansion. It’s expected to take the tunnel boring machine about a year to reach the North Island, then four months to turn the machine around, and another year to dig a parallel tunnel back to the South Island. Each tunnel will be about 8,000 feet long and up to 150 feet below the water.

Complex Design and Permitting Expertise

Delivering the design of this massive project required combining our national expertise and local talent. Altogether, nearly 800 design packages were completed. At the peak of design, 138 staff in 40 HDR offices contributed to the project.

In addition to landside design, HDR assisted in the preparation of the Joint Permit Application used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Virginia Marine Resources Commission and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. This included marine mammal coordination, essential fish habitat coordination, underwater acoustics analysis, threated and endangered species coordination, alternatives analysis, avoidance and minimization of impacts to Waters of the U.S., preparation of all impact plates and development of a habitat condition analysis among other tasks.

One of the largest design-build projects in the United States, the expansion will ease congestion, improve safety and promote future economic growth. It is scheduled to be completed in 2025.

south trestles of hampton roads bridge-tunnel