Formally kicking off the process to build the long-awaited Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Expansion project, the Virginia Dept. of Transportation on Dec. 15 announced that it is seeking requests for qualifications by March 2.

The 3.5-mile stretch of Interstate 64—the region’s busiest water crossing—has caused headaches for commuters since the 1990s. VDOT says traffic on the existing four lanes exceeds 100,000 vehicles per day during peak summer traffic.

The design-build project, estimated to cost between $3.3 billion and $3.8 billion, would increase vehicular capacity by adding a new tube to connect Peninsula and South Hampton roads. Further, the project will widen the four-lane segments of Interstate 64 in Hampton and Norfolk, easing congestion in "a corridor vital to Virginia's economy, military-readiness and regional connectivity," says a VDOT press release announcing the RFQ. 

The project "will be refined as the scope is more fully developed," VDOT says. "For the tunnel portion of the work, teams may present their capabilities in immersed-tube tunneling, bored tunneling or both methods."

Short-listed project teams will be notified in April, and a request for proposals will be issued later in the spring, VDOT says. Companies submitting an RFP must include "detailed information on their technical approach to deliver the project, as well as binding price proposals," VDOT notes. 

The contract is expected to be awarded in early 2019. Construction is expected to begin in mid-2019, and project completion is slated for 2024.

VDOT says the expanded bridge-tunnel—mostly funded by the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission, "with federal support and other resources anticipated"—will become part of a future regional network of express lanes.