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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Office of the Secretary, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20590

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 29, 2003
Contact: Nancy Singer, 202-366-0660
FHWA 32-03

Federal Highway Administration Provides Emergency Relief To Reopen Norfolk-Portsmouth Midtown Tunnel

NORFOLK, VA - Federal Highway Administrator Mary E. Peters today presented Virginia Department of Transportation Commissioner Philip A. Shucet with a "down payment" letter in the amount of $1 million to reopen the Midtown Tunnel and restore a normal flow of traffic throughout the Norfolk and Portsmouth, VA, area.

The Midtown Tunnel, Route 58, connects downtown Norfolk to downtown Portsmouth, and its closure has been an increasing source of frustration to commuters and freight carriers forced to detour through the city's already congested Downtown Tunnel. The Virginia Department of Transportation closed the tunnel because of the flooding that resulted from Hurricane Isabel.

"President Bush was in Virginia quickly to meet with state disaster-response leaders and is providing an unprecedented response to help provide relief," Peters said. "The Midtown Tunnel is a vital link in the Norfolk/Hampton Roads transportation infrastructure, and we want Norfolk, Hampton Roads, and every community that felt Isabel's wrath back on track as quickly as possible. The tunnel has to be safe and it will be."

Peters said she delivered the $1 million down payment on behalf of President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta.

Under the FHWA's Emergency Relief Program, states can apply for funds to repair the damage on federal-aid highways caused by natural disaster or catastrophic events. The FHWA can fund 100 percent of eligible repairs.

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