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FHA chief joins kickoff of $2.1B Va tunnel project

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (AP) -- The nation's highways chief says a $2.1 billion tunnel project in Virginia will improve safety, mobility and the area's economy.

Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez participated in Thursday's kickoff of the project.

It includes replacement of the Midtown Tunnel linking Portsmouth and Norfolk, renovating the Downtown and Midtown tunnels and extending the Martin Luther King Expressway to Interstate 264.

The project is a public-private partnership between the Virginia Department of Transportation and Elizabeth River Crossings.

Toll revenue will be used repay a $422 million federal loan awarded for the project.