A sampling of Virginia’s major road projects
Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Expansion Project
Work continues on Virginia’s largest highway construction project, the $3.9 billion Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) expansion. The contract ends in November 2025, but the contractor — Hampton Roads Connector Partners, a joint venture led by Dragados USA Inc. — was about 11 months behind in January, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. VDOT hasn’t changed the contract completion date and says the department “will continue to work with the contractor to mitigate any production delays.”
The project will widen the four-lane segments of the 9.9-mile Interstate 64 corridor between Norfolk and Hampton to six lanes on land and eight over the water with twin two-lane tunnels. Marine work laying bases for bridge trestles is ongoing.
Crews will use a $70 million custom-built tunnel boring machine (TBM) to carve out underwater paths. In June 2022, contractors finished excavating 118,000 cubic yards of soil for the TBM launch pit. In fall 2022, workers reassembled 170 pieces of the TBM on the South Island in the pit. Work on the receiving pit on the North Island is ongoing, and VDOT anticipates boring will begin in spring.
As part of the Improve 95 plan to address 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 $565 million Fredericksburg Extension (Fred Ex) project will extend Interstate 95 express lanes about 10 miles south to Exit 133 in Stafford County. Transurban will operate and maintain the lanes, charging variable usage tolls in a contract that continues until 2087. Construction on the project started in spring 2019. The project’s expected completion was initially late 2022 but became late 2023 due to construction delays.
Interstate 81 improvements, Coalfields Expressway
Resulting from a 2018 study, the $2.7 billion Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Program lists 64 planned upgrades targeting safety and reliability along the 325-mile corridor from Bristol to Winchester. It’s scheduled for completion in 2033. Improvements include interchange ramp upgrades, highway widening and auxiliary lanes. Projects are in varying stages. A recently completed project is the 0.8-mile ramp extension from Route 11 onto northbound I-81 at exit 47 in Marion that opened to traffic in July 2022. VDOT traffic engineers estimated that the extension could reduce crashes by up to 77%.
The 115-mile, $4 billion Coalfields Expressway — U.S. Route 460/121 — is slated to run through Southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia, boosting commerce and tourism. About 50 miles of the proposed expressway would run through Virginia. Construction is underway on a $207 million 2-mile section of U.S. Route 460 that will extend from near Route 604 to the existing Route 460 in Grundy, with an expected completion date in December. The federal government’s fiscal 2023 spending bill allocated $7 million to VDOT for CFX design and construction, which the state plans to use to widen the 2-mile section to four lanes. Construction is set to start in March and end in December 2023.