Tamara Rollison 804-786-2715

Jan. 10, 2013

Project already awarded more than $21 million in contracts for small and minority owned businesses in the region

PORTSMOUTH, VA – The Elizabeth River Tunnels project is open for business, already creating jobs and business opportunities for the Hampton Roads region. Transportation leaders were joined today by local businesses that are reaping the benefits from the project during a groundbreaking event in Portsmouth.

The commonwealth, in partnership with the Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC), has begun work to build a new Midtown Tunnel, rehabilitate the existing tunnel as well as the Downtown Tunnels, and extend the Martin Luther King Freeway. These projects collectively are called the Elizabeth River Tunnels.

“The start of the Elizabeth River Tunnels project brings significant job, business and economic opportunities for Portsmouth, Norfolk and the Hampton Roads region,” said Transportation Secretary Sean T. Connaughton. “Already, 150 contracts valued at more than $21 million have been awarded to Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE), and Small, Women-owned and Minority-owned (SWaM) firms. In total, the project will procure $345 million worth of contracts for small, women and minority businesses in the region over the next four years. While the short-term benefits bring jobs, the long-term benefits will greatly improve safety, connectivity and the overall transportation network in the region.”

Job creation is expected to include more than $1 billion of construction works to be built by local companies, more than 500 project-direct jobs and more than 1,000 indirect jobs in the community with related industries and suppliers. The project also creates about 200 permanent facilities, maintenance and operations jobs.

The Elizabeth River Tunnels project has been a top priority for the Hampton Roads region for many years. The project involves the development, design, construction, finance and operation of the following:

  • A new two-lane tunnel parallel to the existing Midtown Tunnel under the Elizabeth River

  • Maintenance and safety improvements to the existing Midtown and Downtown tunnels

  • The extension of the Martin Luther King Expressway from London Boulevard to Interstate 264

  • Interchange modifications at Brambleton Avenue and Hampton Boulevard

Additionally, this partnership provides a subsidy of approximately $2 million annually to Hampton Roads Transit to fund transportation alternatives via enhanced ferry and bus services, offering Hampton Roads citizens low-cost transportation choices to navigate between Norfolk and Portsmouth.

Building a new Midtown Tunnel and the MLK Extension will increase capacity and provide for a more systematic flow of traffic, saving the average round-trip user about 30 minutes a day once the project is completed.

“The state's use of a public-private partnership structure enabled the commonwealth to attract approximately $1.7 billion in private investment to a project that yields tangible long-term benefits to the region and the state,” said Connaughton. “Immediate benefits are being realized through business opportunities.”

Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez said, “The project is a perfect example of transportation infrastructure that enhances safety, mobility and the regional economy for years to come. By both creating jobs and improving access to jobs through improved connectivity, the project supports economic growth.”

“When VDOT signed the comprehensive agreement with the ERC more than a year ago, we said the project would bring jobs and open doors for business,” said VDOT Commissioner Greg Whirley. “Today, we are delivering on jobs and business!”

A key focus has been expanding opportunities for small and minority owned businesses in the region. VDOT has held a series of workshops in the region to share information about potential contract opportunities associated with the project, which has helped to get the ball rolling on contracts.

“We at ERC consider it a privilege to be able to make a positive impact on the economic growth and development of the Hampton Roads region,” said Greg Woodsmall, ERC CEO. “The opportunities this project brings with it -- through the many long-term and permanent jobs created and the robust engagement of area DBE/SWaM subcontractors will have a direct and lasting positive influence on the region’s economy.“

“We are honored to be a part of this highly significant and momentous project,” said Susan Ritter, president of the Ritter-Bryant Hewitt Electric Corp., a DBE contractor on the job. “We are thankful for the economic opportunity that’s been afforded to us as a result of our DBE certification and we look forward to a continuing, successful working relationship with VDOT, ERC and all the companies associated with this project.”

More information on the project can be found at


Information in VDOT news releases was accurate at the time the release was published. For the most current information about projects or programs, please visit the project or program Web pages. You may find those by searching by keyword in the search Virginia DOT box above.

Page last modified: Jan. 10, 2013