Virginia receives unsolicited bid for $4.5bn tunnel project

Skanska and Kiewit have teamed up with several other firms to expand and operate the Hampton Roads-Bridge Tunnel near Norfolk, Virginia. Their proposal could result in a 120-day period during which other developers would be able to submit competing proposals.

A group of construction companies and infrastructure developers have made an unsolicited proposal to expand a tunnel in Virginia, the state’s department of transportation said in a statement.

The proposal came from a group called Hampton Roads Crossings, a group that which includes Skanska Infrastructure Development, Kiewit Infrastructure, Skanska USA Civil, Weeks Marine and Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel:
in need of expansion

The firms seek to widen and operate the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel and a portion of the I-64 highway in Hampton, Norfolk and Virginia Beach. As proposed, the total cost of the project could reach between $3.5 billion to $4.5 billion, said Jeff Caldwell, a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The bridge-tunnel has been in operation since 1957 and carries nearly three million vehicles each month, making it the most congested tunnel in the region. The proposal would expand it from two lanes in each direction to four lanes and would pay for the expansion by installing tolls on all lanes – existing and new – at between $4 to $6 per vehicle, Caldwell said.  

The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel is currently a freeway.

Caldwell said that options for expanding the tunnel had been discussed for years but that Virginia did not have any projects in place to improve capacity. Earlier this year, Virginia legislators passed a law requiring the Virginia Department of Transportation to consider unsolicited proposals for the tunnel’s expansion.

Caldwell said the law was a “companion piece of legislation” to the state's 1995 Public-Private Transportation Act that will not alter the department's usual review process for unsolicited proposals under that law.

Under that law, if the proposal is accepted, it will be posted on the department’s website for public review. A 120-day period will then begin, during which other developers will be able to submit competing proposals.