March 2020 Edition
A Message From the Director
Jim Utterback
In this month’s newsletter we are excited to bring you details about the Tunnel Boring Machine which will be used to bore new twin tunnels.  With the contract for the TBM awarded, the manufacturer can get to work assembling what will be the second largest tunnel boring machine used in the United States (Alaskan Viaduct in Seattle is the largest). In addition, we can begin planning with schools on both sides of the water for a contest to name the machine.

Last month I kicked off the first of what will be a quarterly stakeholders meetings to ensure feedback is received from community leaders directly impacted by the project. Our first meeting produced a number of good suggestions the project team will consider as we move forward.
We are proud of the public outreach we have accomplished over the past two years, during the planning phase, and there is much more to be done.  However, until the governor lifts restrictions on public gatherings, we will adhere to the mandate.

Thanks for your interest in our monthly updates and we look forward to bringing you news about a lot of exciting project developments and stories over the coming months and next several years.

Jim Utterback
Get Used to Hearing the Letters T-B-M
Pictured Below: Example of the scale of a Tunnel Boring Machine
The letters stand for Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) and it is the technology to be used to bore new twin tunnels next to the existing Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. 

Hampton Roads Connector Partners (HRCP), the project's joint construction venture, earlier this month awarded a contract to Herrenknecht of Germany for construction of the TBM. It will take approximately 14 months to build the 46-feet-high machine, approximately four months to ship it from Germany, and another four-to-five months to assemble the TBM on the HRBT's South Island in a 65-foot pit. The TBM stretches the length of a football field.  As you can see from the picture of the TBM's cutterhead (pictured here), the machine is about the height of the HRBT Project Office, which is a four-story building.

The TBM will launch from the South Island (Norfolk side), inch its way at a rate of about 50 feet per day (depending on soil conditions) down to the layer of soil known as the Yorktown layer, approximately 50 feet below the current tunnels. The TBM excavates the tunnels with a circular cross section through the soil.  

The HRBT Expansion Project (new twin two-lane tunnels, wider interstate and 28 new or rebuilt bridges) costs $3.8 billion. The price tag for the TBM alone is $101 million which represents construction, shipping and assembly costs. 

The existing ten tunnels in Hampton Roads are immersed tubes. Advances in tunnel technology make the bored-tunnel approach desirable for the expansion project. The method has fewer environmental impacts and does not disrupt Navy, marine, or commercial traffic in the busy federal channel.

TBMs are typically given female names before they begin work to bring good luck. A female name is chosen because historically, underground workers looked to Saint Barbara for protection. She is the patron saint for military engineers, miners and others who work underground. 

Tunneling is expected to begin in early 2022.
Prepping to Power the TBM
New power poles are going up and existing utility poles along Granby Street in Norfolk are getting prepped for more current to power the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) which will launch from the South Island. Contractors for Dominion Energy will also enhance poles along Ocean View Avenue and Taussig Boulevard in Norfolk.
South Island Utility Work
Meanwhile, preparations are underway to move existing utilities on the South Island (Norfolk side) to make way for construction of the 65-feet deep pit to launch the TBM.
HRBT Expansion Project Stakeholders Meeting
The inaugural HRBT Expansion Project Stakeholders Committee meeting was held in February and by all accounts was well received. The committee consists of key community, military, industry and maritime leaders directly impacted by the expansion work. These leaders will serve as advisors to the HRBT Expansion team, keeping them abreast of challenges, suggesting solutions, and serving as public ambassadors for the project.
Committee members include leadership from the United States Navy, United States Coast Guard, Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission (HRTAC), Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization (HRTPO), Hampton Roads Chamber and Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, City of Norfolk, City of Hampton, Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance (HRMFFA), Port of Virginia, Virginia State Police, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Virginia Maritime Association (VMA), Huntington-Ingalls and Hampton University.
HRBT Expansion Project Director Jim Utterback provided an overview of the project, and other team members presented the construction timeline and communications strategies. Stakeholders offered feedback and made suggestions in areas such as workforce, maritime traffic, and communication with localities. Stakeholders commended the HRBT Team on its transparency and communications efforts to date.
HRBT Expansion Team Is
Out and About in the Community!
The HRBT Team shared valuable information about the HRBT expansion at Engage Norfolk on February 9th at Norview High School. Engage Norfolk is just one of several expansion presentations we’ve made in the past month. Public outreach will resume in late spring.
Pictured Above: 2020 Engage Norfolk Event
From the Design/Build Team
Hampton Roads Connector Partners (HRCP) continues its focus on the maritime community with robust community engagement activities to ensure they have the most up-to-date information on the construction project. Activities include:
  • Outreach to the Willoughby Racers at Rebel Marina, a Maritime Stakeholders Coordination Meeting, three planned maritime community outreach events this spring in Norfolk, Portsmouth and Hampton to discuss construction activity and related timelines (dates to be determined), and creation of maritime outreach collateral for distribution at local marinas and boat ramps in April and May.

Stay Informed