The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT will provide a $338.5 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan to finance a new tunnel at Thimble Shoal Channel on the Virginia side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT).
The CBBT opened to traffic April 15, 1964, with one lane traveling in each direction. Parallel bridges and trestles were completed in 1999 to double capacity except for the bridges, which only allow for one lane of traffic. This project would be the first of two tunnel expansions.
The TIFIA loan program is administered by the department’s Build America Bureau, which has the purpose of streamlining credit and grant opportunities for transportation projects.
“The Build America Bureau is all about helping communities find ways to get infrastructure projects funded and built,” says Transportation Sec. Anthony Foxx. “The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is a vital link for thousands of Virginian and U.S. coastal residents, and this loan will make it safer for travelers while reducing congestion and boosting the regional economy.”
USDOT says the Parallel Thimble Shoal Tunnel Project will involve the construction of a 5,700-foot-long tunnel connecting two southbound trestles of the existing CBBT. Construction is expected to begin Oct. 2017, with an expected completion date of May 2022. The existing CBBT bridge and tunnels will remain operational during construction.
“The Parallel Thimble Shoal Tunnel is a regional transportation priority, included in the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization’s long-range planning and improvement program,” says Virginia Transportation Sec. Aubrey Layne. “The new tunnel will carry more traffic safely and efficiently, further improving transportation for the entire region.”