Hampton Roads Connector Partners (HRCP)—a design-build joint venture of Dragados USA, Vinci, Dodin Campenon Bernard and Flatiron Constructors—has the go-ahead to begin the 55-month process of adding twin two-lane tunnels parallel to existing tubes linking Hampton and Norfolk, Va.

HDR and Mott MacDonald are lead designers for the project, which spans 9.9 miles and includes 14,000 ft of new marine bridges, replacement of more than two dozen existing bridge structures and lane additions to sections of I-64.

The Virginia Dept. of Transportation recently issued the notice to proceed, a month after HRCP secured the final state and federal permits necessary for landside and marine construction of the project. The project is being financed with regional sales and fuel tax revenue and an additional $200 million in agency funds.

HRCP has begun preparing one of the existing portals’ artificial islands for a tunnel-boring machine that is scheduled to arrive on the site next year and begin excavation in early 2022.

The new 45-ft-dia tunnels will be located approximately 50 ft deeper than the existing 7,500-ft-long immersed steel tubes, which were built in 1957 and 1976 to carry traffic beneath the main channel of one of the nation’s busiest harbors. In addition to providing access for commercial shipping, Hampton Roads is also the gateway to Naval Station Norfolk, the world’s largest naval installation.

Traffic through the existing 3.5-mile bridge-tunnel system regularly exceeds 100,000 vehicles a day during peak summer months, making it one of Virginia’s most congested corridors and limiting its ability to serve as an evacuation route during major storm events.