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Highway tunnels to receive $422 million toward renovations

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced on April 13, 2012, that a $422 million loan had been provided to aid in the cost of constructing a new Midtown Tunnel and refurbishing existing tunnels to help break up traffic congestion in Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia.

The project is expected to cost $2.1 billion, and includes the building of a second Midtown Tunnel that will run parallel to the current road, renovation of one Midtown and two Downtown tunnels, and an extension of the Martin Luther King Freeway.

"This much-needed transportation investment will provide jobs in the immediate future to help make the area more productive and contribute to economic growth," Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez said. "In addition, the project will bring congestion relief and help businesses provide better service to their customers."

The Department of Transportation's (DOT's) Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (TIFIA) will help to lower the financing costs of the project which is expected to keep toll rates down. TIFIA offers flexible repayment and low interest rates to make much needed transportation projects a reality around the country. Recent requests for program loans, in the form of letters of interest, exceed $13 billion.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), many hazards are present in highway work zones, including falls, electrical, and struck-by dangers. Protect roadway workers by providing high visibility safety vests, and ensure safety equipment, such as cones and reflectors, are used.