A sampling of Virginia’s major road projects
Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Expansion Project
Construction on the $3.8 billion Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) expansion — the largest highway construction project in Virginia’s history — began in October 2020. The project will widen the four-lane segments of the 9.9-mile Interstate 64 corridor in Norfolk and Hampton to six lanes and create twin two-lane tunnels underwater across the harbor.
Crews will use a $70 million custom-built tunnel boring machine (TBM) to carve out an underwater path for the tunnels. HRBT is the fourth U.S. roadway project to use a TBM. The machine’s front end has a 46-foot-diameter cutterhead that will create an approximately 45-foot-wide opening. The TBM, named “Mary” after Mary Winston Jackson, the late NASA mathematician and aerospace engineer depicted in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures,” will be assembled and readied to start excavation by mid-2022. The entire project is scheduled for completion in November 2025.
Improve 95, Transform 66 projects
As part of its Improve 95 plan to relieve congestion, the state government entered into a $1 billion public-private partnership with Transurban, an Australian toll-road operations company with its U.S. headquarters in Alexandria. The Fredericksburg Extension (Fred Ex) project will extend Interstate 95 express lanes about 10 miles south to Exit 133 in Stafford County, and Transurban will operate and maintain the lanes and charge variable usage tolls in a contract that extends until 2087. Construction on the $565 million project started in spring 2019. The project is behind its scheduled opening date for this year. The current schedule is under review, and the completion date for contracted construction is now set for 2023. Developers say the extension will provide 66% more capacity during peak periods.
Further north, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the state Department of Rail and Public Transportation and I-66 Express Mobility Partners are working on the $3.7 billion Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project, which will build 22.5 miles of new express lanes alongside interstates 66 and 495. The lanes are scheduled to open in December. The project also includes improved bus service and transit routes, expanded park and ride lots, interchange improvements and 11 miles of new bike and pedestrian trails.
Interstate 81 improvements, Coalfields Expressway
The $2.2 billion Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Program consists of 64 planned improvements to the 325-mile corridor from Bristol to Winchester, resulting from a 2018 state study. Focused on safety and reliability, the project includes bridge replacements, ramp extensions, highway widening, curb improvements and additional auxiliary lanes. The program has a 2031 completion date, and improvements are in varying stages. One recently completed project is the replacement of nearly 60-year-old bridges over Reed Creek in Wythe County, which concluded in September 2021.
The Coalfields Expressway — U.S. Route 460/121 — will run through Southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia, boosting commerce and tourism. In January, VDOT announced a $207 million agreement to construct a 2-mile section of U.S. 460 that will extend from near Route 604 to the existing Route 460 in Grundy. Construction is expected to begin in late 2022 or early 2023.