May 2023 Edition
A Message from Project Leadership
Having been a Hampton Roads resident for more than a decade, it is truly an honor and privilege to join the HRBT Expansion Project team and have the opportunity to share our progress with each of you through our project newsletter. Since joining the team in February, it is amazing to see how much work has been accomplished throughout the corridor in such a short time. If you’ve traversed the harbor, you have no doubt seen in action many of our crews hard at work widening the roadway and bringing many of our new structures out of the water. I am happy to report the following achievements.
With such an extensive scope of rehabilitation and widening of more than 25 bridges in the corridor, we’ll soon begin to benefit from the project team's hard work. The Bay Avenue on-ramp, which has been closed since January, just re-opened, and motorists will experience the new improved on-ramp while we begin expansion of the mainline structure. Crews constructing the widening of the eastbound span of the Willoughby Bay Bridge are working diligently to complete key deck pours, often around the clock. These efforts will bring us one step closer to shifting traffic onto this new permanent structure.
W. Bay Avenue On-Ramp (Norfolk)
Marine Work
Trestle work throughout the project continues to be performed at a rapid pace. On the Hampton approach, crews have made critical progress on the eastbound North Trestle. Major accomplishments include setting the initial phase precast caps, slipform bridge parapet walls, and the less-visible taxing work of installing utility conduits. The team is focusing our efforts on bringing this new structure online as quickly as possible, which will signify a major accomplishment for the project. On the North Trestle westbound, crews continue pile driving and are preparing to start setting precast caps and erecting girders later this summer.
Construction of trestles at the North Island approach (Hampton side)
On the Norfolk approach to the new tunnels, the new eight-lane bridge is now towering above the water. To answer a frequently asked question; yes, the new deck will have a super elevation (cross slope) much like you see now in the girders. This will help provide a smooth ride and increased stability as motorists cross the expanded facility at interstate speeds. Also, as you traverse the facility, the cofferdam structure on the island is supporting work to remove rock at the south end of the island to allow connection to the new approach trestle. Another milestone coming soon will be the partial demolition of a portion of the old eastbound bridge.
In April, project staff commissioned both the tunnel boring machine (TBM) and slurry treatment plant (STP). These two massive machines play critical roles in getting the boring operation underway. Much like the christening of a ship, the HRBT team used ceremonial bottles of champagne to celebrate putting these key pieces of machinery into active service. Hampton Roads Connector Partners (HRCP) hosted the ceremony that was attended by employees responsible for their assembly and operation, HRCP executive staff, and VDOT leadership. The event served as a reminder of the momentous occasion and the significance of the work to come.
HRBT Expansion Project team members gather for the
christening and blessing of the TBM and STP
The remainder of 2023 will continue to transform the functionality of the corridor and the look of the Hampton Roads harbor. I cannot express how humbled I am to have the opportunity to lead this monumental undertaking. I’m excited to share future achievements and upcoming milestones over the months and years to come. Our entire team looks forward to delivering this project as quickly and efficiently as possible, bringing us one step closer to an improved I-64 corridor.

As the summer months come into focus, we ask that you remember to put down your phones, focus on the road, and stay alert as we see increased traffic from the many visitors coming to Hampton Roads to experience the wonderful things our region has to offer.

Drive Safe!

Ryan Banas
Project Director
HRBT Expansion Project
TBM Mary and STP Katherine
Blessed and Christened
As the project prepared to begin mining the first of two new tunnels under the Hampton Roads waterway, Mary the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) and her colleague Katherine the Slurry Treatment Plant (STP) were the subjects of two traditional celebrations.

The design-builder, Hampton Roads Connector Partners (HRCP), invited the project’s tunneling personnel to gather April 15 on the South Island to take part in an age-old ceremony called the Saint Barbara Blessing.

The private ceremony involved the blessing of the TBM and crew, and the recitation of the Saint Barbara prayer by Father Oswaldo Saul Anleu Sandoval, the parochial vicar with Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Newport News. 

Saint Barbara, a third-century Christian martyr, is considered the patron saint of miners and underground workers. Devotions to Saint Barbara date back to the earliest mining traditions, which continue even today. The traditional Saint Barbara prayer reads: “O dear Saint Barbara, bring us grace and bless us with your everlasting devotion. Protect us from danger and accidental death and protect us from the evils of this world.”
HRBT Expansion Project team members gathered at the Slurry Treatment Plant
for the ceremony and breaking of the champagne bottle.
Monday, April 17, HRBT Expansion project personnel gathered to christen the STP and TBM. The ceremony involved breaking a bottle of champagne at each machine as a celebration of good fortune for the equipment and the crew. 
HRBT Expansion Project team member christening the Tunnel Boring Machine.
Fired Up and Ready to Go!
Powering the TBM
The Tunnel Boring Machine receives the power needed to begin mining
One of the most schedule-critical aspects of a tunnel boring machine (TBM) project is the preliminary utility work to ensure the machine has enough electricity for its journey. However, powering a tunnel boring machine is no small feat and requires close coordination with local utilities and a significant amount of energy. At peak load, powering the TBM that will build HRBT’s twin tunnels is equivalent to powering 6,000 homes. 
Through planning, preparation, and partnership with Dominion Energy, the system upgrades needed to supply all this power to the TBM and STP were completed ahead of schedule. Efforts included installing six miles of new electrical feeder lines from the Taussig substation in Norfolk to the South Trestle, which carries the lines to a new substation on the South Island. This landside upgrade not only provides power for the TBM and STP, but also will remain after tunnel completion to support future growth in the project corridor area.
This electricity supplies numerous systems on the TBM, such as powering the 54 thrust rams that move the machine forward and enabling the cutterhead’s rotation. That same energy is also needed to power the high-pressure pumps transporting the excavated material to the slurry treatment plant, as well as powering the STP’s de-sanding systems, conveyor belts, and filter presses.
In April, after successful reassembly of the TBM, the project team was figuratively able to “turn the key and crank up the engine” on Mary the Tunnel Boring Machine. This allowed the team to perform final system tests before the start of boring on April 24.
Project Progress Photos
True North!
As the project team prepared Mary the Tunnel Boring Machine for her maiden voyage, a “view from the top” shows the most recent drone footage of the North Island and trestles.
Aerial view of the North Island
(Hampton side) of the HRBT 
Existing, new, and temporary trestle bridges all converge at the North Island (Hampton side)
Excavation of the receiving pit on the North Island, where the TBM breakthrough to complete the first tunnel before being turned around to start the second tunnel.
Raised in the South!
Assembled and ready to launch, Mary the Tunnel Boring Machine has made her temporary home at the South Island of the HRBT. And nearby, her counterpart and “partner in mining,” Katherine the Slurry Treatment Plant (STP) is assembled and ready to receive and process the excavated material produced from the mining process. Twenty rings’ worth of tunnel segments have been barged from Cape Charles, VA, ready to be loaded into the TBM and placed as Mary starts her journey under the South Island. 
HRBT South Island (Norfolk side) featuring the quay dock (lower right) with tunnel segments newly delivered by barge from Cape Charles, VA
Aerial view of the South Island (Norfolk side) at the HRBT
TBM launch pit (center) fully constructed with Mary the TBM in place to start the boring process
Eastbound South Trestles (Norfolk side)
In April, many companies and organizations recognized Administrative Professionals’ Day, celebrating the contributions of administrative professionals and their role in providing efficiency and professionalism to daily operations. It was no different at the HRBT Expansion Project. From document control to executive assistance, it is the administrative team that provides the “oil” for this well-oiled machine. Their daily activities don’t often involve the excitement or intensity of field construction activities but are vital to the continuity of the project.
Christine Williams
Administrative Assistant | VDOT Consultant (CES)
Christine Williams joined the project after a stint as an administrative assistant at a local television station. 

Prior to moving to Hampton Roads, she spent nearly 30 years in the print industry working with major national and international print publications from concept to shelf. In her current role, Christine supports the VDOT team of the HRBT Expansion project. 

On any given day, Christine’s duties can range from meeting planning and calendar management, to filing, copying, and document printing.  Read more...
Anna Weaver
Bird Monitor | VDOT Consultant (VHB)

With construction operations both on land and within waterways, the HRBT Expansion Project takes seriously the obligation to care for the ecosystem within the project corridor. One key measure has been the project’s efforts to protect the migratory bird species that once nested at the HRBT South Island. Using trained border collies, the project has successfully encouraged the birds to make their new local home at nearby Fort Wool. While the role of the border collies has been significant in the rehoming process, a dedicated environmental team has also contributed to the continued protection of the birds on the project. 
Common Terns
Photo courtesy of Anna Weaver
American Oystercatcher
Photo courtesy of Anna Weaver
Royal Terns
Photo courtesy of Anna Weaver
One member of this team is Anna Weaver, an environmental scientist and certified ecologist who proudly holds the title of Bird Monitor for the HRBT project. With the gull-billed tern having been identified as a protected avian species within the HRBT corridor, the project developed and executed a robust program to help protect this tern and other migratory species during the life of the project. Since 2020, Anna and her team have implemented the monitoring aspects of this program by conducting bird surveys on the North and South Islands during nesting season. Surveying includes daily treks across both islands, detecting, identifying, and recording birds on land and in the water within 50 ft. of the shoreline.  Read more...
Read about the HRBT Expansion Project's commitment to conservation and environmental safety in past editions of the project's official magazine.
Lights, Camera, Expansion!
Interested in the daily activity at the HRBT Expansion Project? Wondering about the widening? Excited about the expansion? Check out our real-time project cameras on the HRBT Expansion website. Citizens can view the construction activities happening throughout the project corridor.
Get In the Know, and Then Go!
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