Downtown Tunnel and Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, Virginia

Downtown Tunnel

Downtown Tunnel
crosses Elizabeth River
Length 1,022 meters
Opening 23-05-1952 / 04-03-1987
Intensity 84,000 mvt/day
Location Map

According to Beautyphoon, the Downtown Tunnel is a tunnel in the United States, located in Norfolk, Virginia. The tunnel passes under the southern branch of the Elizabeth River and connects Portsmouth to Norfolk. The tunnel is part of Interstate 264.


The Downtown Tunnel is a two-tube, 2×2 lane tunnel that passes under the south branch of the Elizabeth River. The tunnel has two different tube lengths, the northern tube is 1022 meters long, the southern tube is 1162 meters long. The biggest difference in length is at the west portal in Portsmouth. Interstate 264 has 2×3 lanes through Portsmouth, but narrows at Effingham Street near downtown to 2×2 lanes and then continues under the Elizabeth River through the Downtown Tunnel. The eastern tunnel portal is located in the Norfolk Harbor area, where it immediately interchanges with Interstate 464 and I-264 crosses the eastern branch of the Elizabeth River over a bascule bridge to I-264 into downtown Norfolk.


Originally traffic in the Norfolk region depended on many ferry services, the city was an important port but poorly connected to the US road network, especially to the north and west. Shortly after World War II, plans were made for a tunnel and bridge, the Norfolk-Portsmouth Bridge-Tunnel. This connection opened to traffic on May 23, 1952 as a toll road. The toll at the time was 25 cents.

As a single-tube tunnel, the connection soon became congested due to the large amount of commuter traffic around Norfolk. The toll was scrapped after the bonds issued for the construction were paid off. In the 1980s, a second tunnel was finally built next to it, which was opened on March 4, 1987. A second bridge over the Elizabeth River was also built at the time, providing 2×4 lanes on I-264 east of the interchange with I-464 and 2×2 lanes through the Downtown Tunnel to Portsmouth.

The tunnels were extensively renovated between 2013 and 2016. The refurbishment started on 9 August 2013 with weekend closures for the tunnel tube towards Portsmouth, followed by nighttime closures for the tunnel tube towards Norfolk from July 2014. The project was completed on 17 August 2016. The renovation was awarded as a PPP project called the ‘Elizabeth River Tunnels Project’. Since then, tolls have to be paid again in the tunnel.


The Downtown Tunnel is a toll road with electronic toll collection. Toll rates are time-dependent, although there is no real-time congestion pricing. E-ZPass users pay the lowest rate.

Traffic intensities

Every day, 84,000 vehicles use the tunnel.

Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel

Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel
Spans Hampton Roads
Lanes 2×2
Total length 5,600 meters
Main span ?
Bridge deck height ?
Opening 01-11-1957 / 01-11-1976
Traffic intensity 87,000 mvt/day
Location Map

The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel is a river crossing in the United States, located in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia.


The Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel.

The connection is a bridge-tunnel combination, with a 2,275 meter long two-tube immersion tunnel and connecting girder bridge connections over the Hampton Roads, both north and south of the bridge. These are two parallel bridges. The bridges connect to the tunnels via an artificial island. The total link is 5.6 kilometers long, the shortest fixed river link in the Hampton Roads region. Over the river crossing, Interstate 64 in Virginia runs 2×2 lanes and connects Hampton to Norfolk. It is the most important and busiest connection in the region. The connection is toll-free.


Originally there was a ferry service at this location, connecting Hampton to Norfolk. The first bridge in the region was the James River Bridge to the west which opened in 1928, but this was such a long detour that the ferry service was faster. The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel was the first cross-river connection at Norfolk itself and was constructed in the mid-1950s with a single 2-lane carriageway with oncoming traffic. This connection opened to traffic on November 1, 1957. Construction costs at the time were $44 million and the connection was a toll road.

The Port of Norfolk grew in importance as the main port of the US Navy during the Cold War. Traffic on the Hampton Roads increased and a second span was built in the mid-1970s as part of the Interstate Highway program. The second connection opened to traffic on November 1, 1976. The construction of the second connection cost $95 million. When it was opened, the toll on the first connection was stopped. Traffic continued to grow and in 1992 the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel was opened to the west, relieving the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel of the intensive traffic.


The tunnel is overloaded and therefore the capacity will be expanded to 8 lanes. The new capacity consists of two new drilling tunnels with 2 lanes each, so that the corridor consists of 4 tunnel tubes with 2 lanes each. The connecting road sections will be widened to 2×3 lanes where this is not yet the case. On February 15, 2019, the contractor was selected for the $3.3 billion project. This is the largest project in Virginia history. Construction started on October 29, 2020. The project must be completed by November 1, 2025 at the latest.

Traffic intensities

Every day 90,000 vehicles drive over the connection, which is therefore overloaded.

Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, Virginia

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