The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) expansion project will officially be widening the tunnel to four lanes instead of three.
HRBT project officials recently explained that the cost difference would be negligible and that the four-lane version would actually be easier to build. The idea was floated early in the concept design in 2015, but officials decided to go with it earlier this year.
The land sections of I-64 will have three lanes in each direction. The existing tunnels will be converted to all westbound traffic (toward the Peninsula), and the new tube will take traffic eastbound (to South Hampton Roads). The “3-4-3 configuration” may alleviate some of the congestion and slowdowns that come with entering the tunnels. The design could increase hourly capacity from 4,700 to 6,300 cars.
During peak summer traffic, more than 100,000 vehicles a day cross the span, according to the Virginia DOT. The bridge-tunnel will keep two free lanes and add one permanent high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane, as well as a HOT lane shoulder that can be used during peak congestion.
The tunnel expansion is the largest roads project in Virginia history, and is estimated to cost more than $3.6 billion by the time construction is finished in 2024.
Source: The Virginian-Pilot