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13News Now Vault: The HRBT then and now

The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel first opened in 1957. It's now undergoing a major expansion project that aims to relieve major congestion problems.

HAMPTON, Va. — Crews will start building new tunnel pieces for the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel in the next two weeks.

The off-site construction is just another step in the massive tunnel expansion project that will widen the tunnel from four lanes to eight lanes across the water by 2025.

It’s a project that will relieve congestion drivers have been dealing with for decades.

Looking back at the 13News Now archives, a story from 1987 shows similar traffic congestion that we continue to deal with today. That was 30 years after the tunnel first opened in 1957.

It wasn’t until 1992 when the much-needed Monitor Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel opened.

During Memorial Day weekend of that year, traffic was nearly non-existent. But that honeymoon period wouldn’t last long.

The region continued to grow, and we continue to find ourselves stuck in traffic without solutions to fix the problem.

From 1999 to 2016, a complex series of studies were performed to find the most cost-effective way of reducing congestion. They were the foundation of the $3.3-billion expansion we are in the middle of today.

A machine that will be used to carve out the tunnels will arrive in Hampton Roads from Germany next month. In addition, the project includes the construction of marine trestles from the North and South Islands.

Moreover, a stretch of Interstate 64 on the Norfolk and Hampton sides will span six lanes, instead of four lanes.

In the meantime, road and bridge work along I-64 will make the most noticeable traffic impact.

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