AASHTO Journal, 18 November 2016
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said financing is complete to build an additional two-lane tunnel under the Thimble Shoal Channel west of the existing Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, using state bonds and a long-term, low-interest federal TIFIA loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel Commission will finance the $756 million project, which is expected to start construction in autumn 2017 and take about five years to complete.
It will add capacity to the CBBT, a 17.6-mile structure across the Chesapeake that connects the Hampton Roads area to Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
“This new tunnel will expand capacity and improve safety for travelers who use the CBBT, as well as protect the economic competitiveness and quality of life of the Hampton Roads region,” said McAuliffe.
“The CBBT is the only direct link between Hampton Roads and Virginia’s Eastern Shore, making this facility a vital and convenient connection, supporting commerce in the region. I am proud to announce this expansion as part of our administration’s ongoing commitment to reducing congestion and spurring economic growth through smart transportation planning.”
The commission in July awarded this Parallel Thimble Shoal Tunnel Design-Build project to Chesapeake Tunnel Joint Venture, comprised of Dragados USA and Schiavone Construction.
The commission is financing it partly through a $338.5 million USDOT credit under the federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program that aids projects of regional and national significance that have a way to repay the loan. Terms can run as long as 35 years after project completion.
The state will also issue $321.5 million in revenue bonds, the governor’s announcement said, and a $50 million state bond from the Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank. Remaining project funding will come from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel District’s General Fund.
Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne noted that Virginia’s infrastructure bank “issues low-interest loans to help fund high-priority projects that will improve transportation and benefit the economy.” He said the Parallel Thimble Shoal Tunnel is a regional transportation priority, and that “the new tunnel will carry more traffic safely and efficiently, further improving transportation for the entire region.”
CBBT Commission Chairman Frederick Stan said the blended cost of capital for the project is fixed at about 3.2 percent.