August 2023 Edition - vol. 2
A Message from Project Leadership

Summer is in full swing, and many things are changing rapidly on the project. We’re excited to share that the boring operation is fully underway, and to date, crews have erected more than 124 rings totaling nearly 873 feet of tunnel. 

The project team is laser-focused on this operation as it is crucial to the project’s overall success.

As Mary the tunnel boring machine continues her journey beneath the harbor, progress on the North Island’s cell 1 of the receiving pit is making headway.
Excavation of the receiving pit is complete, and crews are now working on rebar placement for the headwall. Upon completion later this summer, crews will perform one of the largest concrete pours in Virginia history; 5,600 cubic yards of concrete, totaling more than 560 concrete trucks over a planned continuous 36-hour duration. This operation requires detailed planning, expert logistic coordination, and the sweat of hundreds of employees to pull it off…… not to mention a few pallets of water, inordinate amounts of coffee, and several pizzas to keep our crews hydrated, caffeinated, and fueled up!
Landside crews continue to make progress on Oastes Creek Bridge, Mason Creek Bridge and Willoughby Bay Bridge; driving piles, setting caps, erecting girders, pouring decks, and in some areas, demolition of old bridges is taking place. Project crews recently set up a temporary signal at 13th View Street and Bayville Street to ensure crews have the ability to safely perform roadway construction and lead abatement work under the existing I-64 bridges.
Tunnel Vision: Mary the TBM is boring! Pictured above is a view of the first few rings placed by Mary. The large tube carries the ventilation to the TBM.
As work on the HRBT Expansion Project continues to take place, coupled with the ramping up of adjacent Hampton Roads Express Lanes (HREL) projects in both Hampton and Norfolk, our team needs your help and patience now more than ever. We appreciate that even though VDOT and our contractor partners attempt to minimize impacts and keep restrictions to overnight hours where possible, at times, our work zones may increase your travel time. As residents of Hampton Roads, our very own VDOT and contractor staff are not immune to the temporary inconveniences construction may have on daily commutes or weekend plans. Be assured that we’re working as diligently as possible to minimize these impacts and deliver one of the country’s largest infrastructure projects as efficiently as possible. 
As school gets ready to get back into session, we ask that you remember to slow down, put down your phone, focus on the road, and stay alert to changing traffic patterns. Many great changes are just around the corner, and we look forward to the opportunity to share them with you as we move closer to completing this transformational project.

Drive Safe!
Ryan Banas
Project Director
HRBT Expansion Project
Construction Activity Underway in Willoughby Bay
As work on the I-64 Willoughby Bay Bridge (WBB) advances, Hampton Roads Connector Partners (HRCP) construction crews have begun work on the westbound lanes of the Willoughby Bay Bridge in mid-July.

The image below is an aerial photo of WBB prior to the start of construction.
The image below is a photo of WBB, taken in June 2023, that captures the progress of the bridge work that began nearly two years ago. Crews have widened the eastbound lanes of the bridge which will support the addition of two new lanes of traffic.
Public outreach to inform Willoughby Spit residents of the construction activities along Willoughby Bay included:

  • Release of a construction alert to local media and posting the alert on the HRBT Expansion Project’s website (

  • Placement of HRBT Expansion Project yard signs along local streets to alert residents of approaching construction activity and advise them to visit the project’s website for more information.

  • Mailing of a construction advisory postcard to residences and businesses within a 1-mile radius of nearby residential streets to inform citizens of the approaching piledriving activities.
Lights, Camera...Construction!
Here's the latest behind-the-scenes tour video update on the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) Expansion Project, which is aimed to enhance traffic flow and commuter safety in the region. 

The video showcases progress, featuring state-of-the-art construction methods and innovative technologies being utilized. Witness firsthand how dedicated teams of engineers and crew work tirelessly day and night to make the HRBT of the future a reality.

Watch the video below and be a part of this transformative journey. Stay tuned for more updates as we pave the way for a better drive.
Center of Control: The TBM Control Room
Is it a spaceship? No....Pictured above is the control room of Mary the Tunnel Boring Machine
The Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) control room is where innovation and expertise converge to drive the mining process. The TBM control room serves as mission control for the tunneling operation as a multitude of activities unfold beneath the waters of the Hampton Roads Channel.
The TBM control room is a hub of advanced technology where highly trained operators monitor and guide the TBM's performance. Equipped with many displays, consoles, and control panels, operators monitor real-time data on the TBM's speed, torque, cutterhead rotation, and other critical parameters. This ensures smooth and efficient progress as the TBM excavates beneath the channel bed. Read more...
Stakeholder Spotlight: Joint Base Langley-Eustis
Delegation from Joint Base Langley Eustis on a site visit to the HRBT Expansion Project
This past month, U.S. Air Force Col. Gregory Beaulieu, accompanied by senior leaders from Joint Base Langley-Eustis (JBLE), visited the HRBT Expansion Project to assess its progress and potential impact on military operations. During the onsite tour, JBLE leadership gained firsthand knowledge of the project's scope and advancements.
Recognizing the importance of reliable transportation infrastructure for troop and equipment movements, it was noted that the HRBT Expansion Project could enhance military crisis response capabilities and mission effectiveness.

Hampton Roads' reliance on the HRBT for over 82,000 active-duty military personnel commuting, demands a robust transportation system.

The site visit with JBLE senior leadership provided insight that will contribute to improved connectivity and mobility, benefiting both the Hampton Roads region and the United States Military housed in the project corridor.  (Pictured: The control room of the TBM, Colonel Gregory S. Beaulieu, Commander of the 633rd Air Base Wing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA, with Lead Tunnel Manager Rene Reichl)
Project Progress Photos
Assembly of the Batch Plant on the South Island 
Island Life: Drone view of project progress on the South Island 
Permanent and temporary trestles/bridges at the North Island
View from the Top: Construction of the North Island receiving pit (cells 1 & 2). It is approximately 75 feet deep.
EQUIPPED TO BUILD: Tugboats, the “Tractor Trailers” of the Waterways 
On the HRBT Expansion Project, the role of tugboats cannot be overstated. These powerful vessels are integral to the project's marine operations, led by Hampton Roads Connector Partners’ (HRCP) marine subcontractor, Seaward Marine, Norfolk, VA. With their varying sizes and capabilities ranging from 600 to 1200 horsepower, these "tractor-trailers" of the waterway ensure the smooth transportation of equipment, personnel, and materials necessary for the construction.

Tugboats are indispensable in moving barges that carry equipment to and from their designated working locations. Specifically, the project maintains a fleet of more than 40 barges, and the tugboats play a vital role in shifting cranes, material, and floating support equipment between locations on the project. Read more...
Martha's Making Moves
Martha Gross, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE, VDOT’s Technical Director for the HRBT Project, was recently appointed a Fellow by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). This prestigious recognition celebrates Gross's outstanding leadership within the field of engineering and her exceptional contributions to the civil engineering profession. Only 3% of ASCE members have attained Fellow status.

Gross is an invaluable asset to the HRBT Expansion Project, dedicating her expertise and passion to the largest infrastructure project in the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia. She plays a pivotal role in overseeing the project's technical aspects, ensuring the implementation of innovative engineering solutions, and upholding VDOT's highest safety and quality standards. Throughout her career, Gross has been a trailblazer, pushing the boundaries of civil engineering and inspiring future generations. Read more...
Three Generations of Builders on the HRBT
John Eskins and his son, John Andrew "Drew" Eskins, are a father-and-son duo working on the HRBT Expansion Project. Their story spans three generations of tunneling, as John's father worked on the 2nd tunnel of the HRBT in 1972.

As a young boy and well into his teens, John knew he would follow in his father's footsteps and pursue a career in transportation and construction. At 18, he joined his first project, gaining knowledge and expertise via on-the-job training.

With an impressive 43 years of experience in the construction and tunneling industry, John is HRCP’s Superintendent for the South Island Maintenance of Traffic (MOT) Trestles for the HRBT Expansion Project. Read more...

Women IN Engineering
On June 23, 2023, the industry celebrated Women in Engineering, honoring the amazing work that "women engineers around the world are doing to support lives and livelihoods every day." On the HRBT Expansion Project, the importance of women in engineering who are not engineers themselves contributes significantly to the project team's success. While engineers play a crucial role in designing, developing and innovating, the women who support their work are equally essential.
Sandra Williams
Executive Administrative Assistant, HRCP
Meet Sandra Williams, a remarkable woman who plays a vital role in the engineering industry and on this project. As an Executive Assistant for one of Hampton Roads Connector Partners’ (HRCP) joint-venture partners, VINCI Construction LLC, Sandra provides senior administrative support.

In her role, Sandra undertakes various strategic support activities for both the Project Manager and the Commercial Manager. Her responsibilities include calendar management, collaborative meeting scheduling, project task tracking, progress evaluation, and timely policy reporting. Her efficiency and attention to detail facilitate smooth operations and help support strong client relationships. Read more...
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!
Sign Up To Receive Updates!
Sign up for the HRBT Expansion Project Alerts to get weekly updates on traffic and construction impacts. Perfect way to “know before you go!”

Social Connecting
The HRBT Expansion Project team is committed to staying connected with the region for the life of the project. Like, join, follow, or tweet about the project on our social media channels.