Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that the Elizabeth River Tunnels Project will move ahead as a tolled facility following the Supreme Court of Virginia's ruling in the Danny Meeks, et al. v. Virginia Department of Transportation, et al. litigation. The project will build a second Midtown Tunnel, rehabilitate the existing Midtown and Downtown tunnels and extend the Martin Luther King Boulevard.
Governor McDonnell said, "I applaud the Supreme Court for its ruling today overturning the Circuit Court's decision declaring aspects of the Elizabeth River Tunnels Project unconstitutional. The court's decision means the facilities can be tolled so project development and construction can continue, which will bring significant improvements to the region's transportation network. This project, which received broad support as a transportation priority by regional leaders, will make a huge impact on reducing traffic delays and congestion in Hampton Roads. While we understand the financial impact this toll will have on local commuters, the Elizabeth River Tunnel project is a necessity to ensuring ongoing safety and economic development in the region. Today's ruling confirms what my administration has been saying from the beginning: Virginia's Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA) is a critical tool in addressing some of our toughest transportation challenges. By attracting private sector capital and innovation and ensuring projects are completed in a timely, efficient, and cost-effective manner, our ability to partner with the private sector makes otherwise impossible projects doable. This is critically important for future job-creation and economic growth in the Commonwealth."
"The Elizabeth River Tunnels Project is crucial to the future of the Hampton Roads transportation network," added Transportation Secretary Sean T. Connaughton. "Not only will it relieve congestion at some of the worst choke points on the East Coast, but it will help move cargo into and out of the Port of Virginia."
The Commonwealth is partnering with the private sector, Elizabeth River Crossings, under the PPTA to deliver the $2.1 billion project, with much of the investment coming from the private sector. The project will be financed through tolls, scheduled to begin in February 2014.
The Elizabeth River Tunnels Project is located in the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia, and includes:
A new two-lane tunnel under the Elizabeth River adjacent to the existing Midtown Tunnel;
Extending the MLK from London Boulevard to Interstate 264 (I-264), with an interchange at High Street.
Minor modifications to the interchange at Brambleton Avenue/Hampton Boulevard in Norfolk;
Maintenance and safety improvements to the existing Midtown Tunnel;
Maintenance and safety improvements to the existing Downtown Tunnel;
Long-term 24/7 maintenance, operations, management, snow removal and incident response in the Project area;
An annual subsidy to Hampton Roads Transit to increase bus and ferry services between Norfolk and Portsmouth to the highest level of service-providing improved interconnectivity and low-cost, convenient alternatives to driving.