HRBT open house allows neighbors to see impacts of expansion


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Dozens came out to an open house to learn more about the expansion of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel and how it could impact them.

It’s expected to be the most expensive project in state history at $3.6 billion.

The plan includes adding more lanes and an additional tunnel underwater to help ease traffic backups.

Ellen Carlson says the tunnel has affected her job in the past with traffic build up.

“My law firm had a wonderful receptionist and she lived on the Peninsula and she did it for three years and one day she came in and said, ‘I have to stop.'”

With word about the expansion of the tunnel came an environmental re-evaluation.

The locations studies project manager says the expansion looks at having two lanes of normal traffic and a high occupancy toll lane which is also referred to as a HOT lane.

“So if you have 2 or 3 people in your car you ride free — you don’t pay the toll to go through it,” said location studies project manager Scott Smizik.

He also talked about a part time drivable shoulder in the HOT lane.

But with all the expansion comes construction, noise and how this can affect wetlands and floodplains and forested areas.

A bulletin showed just how many feet and acres could be disturbed with the expansion.

“These would all be what we call worst case scenario numbers, and the goal is through design and permitting all the impacts will come down more,” Smizik said.

Neighbors also got to see a full slide show and could submit their questions for concern.

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