Hampton Roads Third Crossing Bridge-Tunnel Commission
July 26, 2000, Norfolk
In brief opening remarks, Chairman Wagner impressed upon the participants the vital importance of the Third Crossing Project to the future of the Ports of Hampton Roads, reduction of region-wide traffic congestion (and resulting protection of air quality), disaster and military emergency preparedness, sustained economic growth, and the entire region's quality of life. This project, he stressed, is not only the region's most important, it is also the region's most expensive, the key element of which is the unique asset of Craney Island.
Third Crossing Design
The focus of the remainder of the meeting was a briefing by a Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) consultant. In his presentation, the consultant discussed the origins of the Third Crossing Project, its goals, the development of competing designs and choice of a final design, the elements of that design, and the costs of the project. The design chosen (Alternative 9) from among 11 competing designs can:
Of particular interest was the inclusion of a multimodal tube as an element of the project's design. This tube can be used as a busway (capable of moving as many people as 3-10 conventional highway lanes), a light rail system (capable of moving as many people as 4-16 conventional highway lanes), or as a rapid rail (heavy rail) system (capable of moving as many people as 8-56 conventional highway lanes). This tube would make it possible to provide high-speed passenger rail service between Southside Hampton Roads and Richmond via the Peninsula.
When all five phases of the Third Crossing Project are completed, the new facility is expected to accommodate as many as 15.3 million more trips per year than existing facilities alone. The total estimated cost of the project (in 1999 dollars) is $2.7 billion.
Following the presentation, the members discussed the possibility of obtaining some funding for the project from the U. S. Department of Defense (DOD). Chairman Wagner emphasized that Craney Island could be "developed from the ground up" as a specialized facility to support a combined-arms rapid reaction/deployment force. Senator Stolle agreed that exploration of DOD participation in funding the project was desirable, but he cautioned against any excessive optimism that either the DOD or the federal Department of Transportation would be willing to "carry an extravagant share of the project."
The joint subcommittee will meet again at 10:00 a.m. on September 22 at the Norfolk International Terminals' "Crumley House." That meeting's agenda is expected to include a presentation of VDOT's "best case schedule" for design and construction of the Third Crossing Project and briefings on how the project relates to the Virginia Port Authority's plans for a new port and to disaster evacuation plans for Hampton Roads.