CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Local transportation leaders voted in favor of the planned expansion of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel at a meeting on Thursday.
There were several items on the agenda for the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission and the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization, including the $3.6 billion dollar expansion project, which would widen the bridge-tunnel to four lanes in each direction.
It’s the biggest transportation project in the commonwealth and among the biggest in the country.
Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander was the lone vote against the project because he says it does not include $375 million dollars to replace the trestles from the south island at the HRBT to Willoughby Spit.
Alexander says that taxpayers in Hampton Roads will get stuck with that $375 million dollar bill, instead of it being paid for by the Commonwealth of Virginia.
City Activist Terry Danaher is concerned about the trestles too, “accountability for why the trestles the south trestles were not maintained in the first place, and what are the safety issues, and can the project move ahead unless money is found elsewhere…these are the concerns.”
State Senator Frank Wagner is already thinking about January’s start of the General Assembly as an answer to finding $375 million dollars, “The state should always fulfill their obligation and now the state is hedging on that a little bit, and we are going to hold their feet to the fire and say no. It is your responsibility.”
10 On Your Side asked Shannon Valentine, the state’s secretary of transportation, where the money will come from.
“Once we looked at the entire procurement and realized the southern trestles weren’t there we’ve been working very hard to figure out how to include this so we can do it all at one time,” Valentine said.
Wagner told 10 On Your Side, “We are going to find the money and insist VDOT find the money when we go into session.”
There will be toll lanes as part of the new project. Delegate Chris Jones, Chairman of the House Appropriation Committee, says “You are going to have tolling at those two crossings, but to keep them as low as possible, and only at rush hour and during the day you wouldn’t have to pay.”
Jones also makes it clear there will be no tolling of existing lanes at the HRBT or the High rise Bridge, “My legislation I carried a couple of years ago requires existing lanes be toll free.”