MidTown Tunnel to Open this Summer

Construction zone of Midtown Tunnel. Photo credit: Virginian-Pilot

Construction zone of Midtown Tunnel. Photo credit: Virginian-Pilot

A rare piece of good news on the infrastructure front: The new Midtown Tunnel between Norfolk and Portsmouth will open early this summer, months ahead of its scheduled December completion. Officials with Elizabeth River Crossing said they had made “significant progress” on construction, and expect both lanes of the second tube to be fully open by late summer, reports the Virginian-Pilot.

The financing of the Downtown/Midtown Tunnel project embroiled Hampton Roads in controversy over the timing and size of the tolls. The McAuliffe administration has largely defused the issue, but the flap led many to question the value of using public-private partnerships to build and operate transportation mega-projects.

While private financing, ownership and operation of transportation assets raises many prickly questions, ERC’s performance with the enormously complex Midtown Tunnel project supports the argument that outsourcing design and construction to private entities can be a viable way to limit state exposure to delays and cost overruns.

— JAB

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One response to “MidTown Tunnel to Open this Summer

  1. If not mistaken – the credit (or blame) goes to Bob McDonnell and Sean Connaughton who had their successes and failures.

    They succeeded in revamping the gasoline tax to effectively and forever index it to not only inflation but the cost of fuel and even were smart enough to put a floor on the tax in case the price of gas actually went down!

    Further – both NoVa and Hampton Area were given supplemental regional sales taxes that did pass Constitutional muster on the second attempt.

    Then finally, despite the US 460 fiasco and the failure to put tolls on I-81 -they managed PPTA congestion tolling on major roads in NoVa and Hampton and more are going to be built – to the consternation and ire of more than a few.

    I think it’s safe to say that the added lanes in NoVa and new tunnels in Hampton would never have happened had these two (and probably others) had been successful at putting them in place.

    And in the age of the GOP – nationally and in Virginia opposing and obstructing infrastructure and virtually everything else while not offering any alternatives of there own – just freeze everything in place – give credit that after decades of no changes in Nova and Hampton – change did happen and despite the never-ending criticism – it’s proving to be a benefit and the concept of congestion tolling ( a Heritage/Conservative idea) – IS working and people are either carpooling or time-shifting their trips or strategically buying tolls when it makes financial sense to them – AND NOT making plans that are based on the concept of “free” trips.

    So – I do give McDonnell and whoever on his staff and Connaughton for moving the state forward on transportation, PPTA, new tunnels and confronting the dilemma of ever increasing congestion in the urban areas – something that has bedeviled not just NoVa and Hampton but urban areas across the country – and now – with Virginia among the leaders – congestion tolling spreading to more and more urban areas – across the country from New York to Chicago to Houston to Austin to LA to Seattle.

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