VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Construction will begin next year on a new tunnel to move traffic from Virginia Beach to the Eastern Shore.
The new tunnel will run parallel tunnel alongside the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel at the Thimble Shoal Channel.
The CBBT Commission awarded the Dragados Team with a $755 million contract on Wednesday morning, sister station WTKR reported.
The project will begin in October of 2017 and is expected to take five years to complete.
When it’s finished, the new tunnel will carry two lanes of southbound traffic and the existing tunnel will carry two lanes of northbound traffic.
CBBT officials say the construction will require tearing down and closing Virginia Originals and Chesapeake Grill. Their original plans to expand the island became cost prohibitive.
The Fishing Pier located by Virginia Originals will be renovated during the project and will re-open to the public in 2022, upon completion of the new tunnel.
Thomas Anderson, Director of Finance, told WTKR that safety and driver accessibility are among the main goals of the project.
He says their facility does not have many viable alternatives. If there is any kind of disruption in the tunnel, or a need for repair or maintenance, they have to stop traffic.
The project will be funded through toll revenues, bonds, and a federal loan, according to Anderson. As a governmental entity, they operate like a business, so the project is not funded through any taxpayer money.