U.S. Department of Transportation Announces up to $338.6 Million TIFIA Loan for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel – Parallel Thimble Shoal Tunnel Project
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation today announced that its Build America Bureau (the Bureau) has provided a direct Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan in the amount of up to $338.6 million to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel District for the construction of the Parallel Thimble Shoal Tunnel of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (CBBT) crossing. The DOT provides TIFIA and other surface transportation infrastructure financing through its Build America Bureau.
This loan will replace the current $338.6 million TIFIA loan that the Build America Bureau provided to the Borrower for the Project in November 2016. The loan provides a portion of the financing for a 5,700-foot tunnel connecting two southbound trestles of the existing CBBT, a 17.6-mile structure linking the Norfolk/Virginia Beach areas to Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The CBBT first opened to traffic in 1964. It currently includes more than 12 miles of low-level trestle in each direction, two one-mile tunnels each running beneath a shipping channel, two bridges, almost two miles of causeway, four manmade islands and over five miles of approach roads, totaling 23 miles. Because of its proximity to the shore, peak travel season occurs during the summer months (May 15 to September 15) with a significant portion of this traffic occurring on weekends.
“The Bureau is pleased to support the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Parallel Thimble Shoal Tunnel project by refinancing the original loan to take advantage of lower interest rates,” said Build America Bureau Executive Director Morteza Farajian. “Today’s announcement will help the community save millions of dollars, address the economic harm caused by the pandemic, and keep important public works projects moving forward.”
The new loan, with a lower interest rate would generate savings of approximately $57 million over the life of the loan which will help to: 1) mitigate the reduction in toll revenues that occurred as result of the pandemic, and 2) reinstate a capital expenditure program and routine rehabilitation projects that were postponed in response to the downturn in revenues.
The Project addresses numerous DOT policy priorities such as improving safety and supporting economic growth and will provide essential redundancy for Navy access to its bases in Norfolk and at Naval Air Station Oceana in the event that one of the Thimble Shoal tunnels is damaged or impassable. The CBBT carries US 13, the main north-south highway on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and provides the only direct link between Virginia’s Eastern Shore and south Hampton Roads, Virginia.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Build America Bureau was established as a “one-stop-shop” during the Obama Administration to help states and other project sponsors carry out infrastructure projects. The Bureau offers credit programs, technical assistance, and best practices in project planning, financing, delivery, and operation. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed by President Biden in November 2021, expands project eligibility for the Bureau’s TIFIA credit program and extends maturity of the loans, giving borrowers additional flexibility.
To date, the Bureau has provide more than $36.2 billion in financing through the TIFIA credit program, supporting more than $123.2 billion in infrastructure investment across the country.