Tunnel work adjustment plans to cost $1.9 million

Jordan Crawford | 7/7/2014, 12:21 p.m.

Complaints reigned in after Portsmouth was repeatedly cut off from westbound traffic on many weekends due to construction on the Downtown Tunnel. In conjunction with resident outcry, businesses and local officials have issued their own set of demands which has resulted in a plan that will cost $1.9 million to implement.

This price is what the Virginia Department of Transportation and federal government are paying to reimburse SKW Constructors, the company that is rehabbing the tunnel, for altering its plan last fall.

VDOT agreed this is what it costs for the company to do its work on a nightly basis throughout the week rather than during full weekend closures.

The state’s share will add to the nearly $504 million it has already committed to the $2.1 billion project, which includes construction of a second Midtown Tunnel and a freeway extension.

Leila Rice, Spokeswoman for Elizabeth River Crossings, the company that is leading the project, said the scheduling change meant many more road closures, which take time and labor. It also extended the completion date of the westbound work by a couple of months, to late summer or early fall, she said.

Determining whether the plan was a liability or an asset for Portsmouth, Tony Goodwin, president of the Olde Towne Business Association, said, “I’d probably say it was still a painful situation no matter which way we went.”

Rice says plans are currently underway for the eastbound tunnel to be renovated next. However, that project will require some full weekend closures to remove ceiling tiles.