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NEWS | July 12, 2023

JBLE Senior Leaders Tour HRBT Expansion

By Staff Sgt. Ashley Gardner 633d ABW PA

U.S. Air Force Col. Gregory Beaulieu, Joint Base Langley Eustis installation commander, along with other senior leaders from JBLE embarked on a tour of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel expansion project to assess the progress and potential benefit to military operations on June 28, 2023.

“Navigating the HRBT and the traffic associated with it is a way of life here in Hampton Roads, especially for our service members stationed here at JBLE,” said Beaulieu. “I’m grateful to get this first-hand look so I can better understand the magnitude of the project and the benefit it will bring to our community members, both military and civilian.”

Beaulieu’s visit has multiple objectives. Primarily, it aims to provide him with firsthand knowledge of the project's scope and advancements. As a military leader responsible for efficient troop and equipment movements, he recognizes the significance of reliable transportation infrastructure. By observing the expansion efforts, Beaulieu gains insight into how these improvements could enhance the military's crisis response capabilities and mission effectiveness.

According to Ryan Banas, HRBT expansion project director, the HRBT expansion is currently the Commonwealth’s largest highway construction project.

The ambitious endeavor seeks to widen nearly 10 miles of the I-64 corridor between Norfolk and Hampton, while also boring two, new twin-lane tunnels beneath the harbor.

Addressing these issues, the Virginia Department of Transportation initiated an extensive expansion project aimed at reducing traffic congestion and improving travel times for the millions of motorists who rely on the tunnel each year. Boasting a comprehensive budget of $3.9 billion, covering construction contracts and owner's expenses, this initiative ranks among the country's largest infrastructure ventures.

Given Hampton Roads' substantial population of more than 82,000 active-duty military personnel, commuting through the HRBT has become a common necessity. Recognizing this, the expansion project holds immense importance as it aims to increase traffic capacity, effectively mitigating significant congestion and ensuring enhanced travel time reliability.

“We are within a 48-hour drive from 75 percent of the United States population,” said Banas. “We also have 1.7 million residents here in Hampton Roads, so congestion relief is one of the challenges for us and one of our main focuses.”

As the HRBT Expansion Project progresses, the insights gained from Beaulieu’s visit will contribute to ongoing efforts to enhance regional transportation infrastructure. The project exemplifies the alignment of military and civilian interests for the collective betterment of the community. With continued collaboration, the completion of the project will usher in improved connectivity and mobility, benefiting the Hampton Roads region and JBLE.