WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation has approved a $422 million TIFIA loan for construction of a new midtown tunnel and rehabilitation of existing tunnels in Norfolk and Portsmouth, Va.

The Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act loan is expected to keep toll rates down by providing credit assistance that will lower the financing costs of construction of the new tunnel under the Elizabeth River between Norfolk and Portsmouth.

The overall project, which is estimated to cost $2.1 billion, includes the new tunnel, which will run parallel to an existing one, as well as rehabilitation of the existing tunnel and two downtown tunnels. In addition, the Martin Luther King Freeway will be extended, with a new partial interchange.

“President Obama has called on us to invest in transportation systems that are built to last,” said U. S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Virginia is doing just that by investing in this key infrastructure project that will create jobs, reduce commute times and support our economic competitiveness.”

The Virginia Department of Transportation is pursuing the project through a public-private partnership with Elizabeth Crossings Opco LLC. The company is responsible for the financing, design, construction, tolling and ongoing operations and maintenance of the project over a 58-year concession term. VDOT will maintain ownership of the project.

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