May 2020 Edition
A Message From the Director
Jim Utterback
“There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” is often an overused phrase. For the HRBT Expansion project, the words could not be more meaningful. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Hampton Roads Connector Partners (HRCP), the contractor for the $3.8 billion project, eagerly await federal and state permits-final and official approval for start of construction.

With unprecedented speed and determination, the owner (VDOT) and builder (HRCP) have worked tirelessly and collaboratively in the permitting process to achieve award.  Approval could come in early summer, allowing construction to start immediately. Both sides are ready. The public is anxious for progress. VDOT and HRCP are committed to delivering it.

In this month’s Project Update, there is information about a project podcast conducted with the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, photos of some of the early concrete work on the South Island, and outreach to the maritime community. We hope you will find it all informative.


Jim Utterback, Project Director
Heavy Lifting Begins
The arrival of concrete trucks on HRBT's South Island on May 7 marked the first of three large deliveries of concrete that will form three slabs for temporary plants to be built on site. They include water treatment, slurry and grout plants that will service the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM).
A total of 61 trucks, each carrying 10 cubic yards, for a total of 611 cubic yards of concrete, delivered material to be poured in the first round. After emptying their loads, the trucks queued up on the South Island and safely re-entered I-64 East during intermittent stoppages. The operation was done at night to minimize impacts to the traveling public.
Two additional concrete pours are scheduled for late May and June.
Expansion Project Director Featured in Peninsula Video Podcast
Peninsula Big Buzz (PBB) started as an effort to raise awareness about significant programs and issues in the community. Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce CEO Bob McKenna says during the COVID-19 crisis, their discussions focused primarily on response. But, by early May, McKenna felt it was time for their discussions to “pivot to recovery.”

His first guest in the recovery segment was Jim Utterback, Project Director for the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Expansion Project.

McKenna, who lives in Newport News, is a cheerleader for the project. He knows, firsthand, the challenges of commuting from the Peninsula to the Southside. He made the commute for three years to Little Creek Amphibious Base and another two years to Dam Neck.

McKenna, and Peninsula Big Buzz facilitator Shelley Smith,who owns Premiere Rapport, welcomed Utterback to their video podcast. Utterback detailed plans to add new twin tunnels to the existing HRBT and discussed job opportunities available on the project. Click here to hear more about delivering Virginia’s largest construction project. (imbed link:

Opportunity Knocks!
Hampton Roads Connector Partners (HRCP), the design-builder for the new tunnels and interstate widening, hosted a virtual public meeting for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) and Small, Women, and Minority-Owned (SWaM) businesses on May 11. Two hundred-sixteen (216) participants logged on to learn about upcoming project opportunities for the expansion.

Malcolm Kates, HRCP's Compliance Manager, detailed some of the construction areas that will require subcontractors, including maintenance of traffic, fuel supply, reinforcing steel, small tools and consumables, temporary facilities and equipment, building renovations and roadway works.

A total of 103 DBE/SWaM subcontractors have already been awarded contracts totaling over 29 million dollars. Future DBE/SWaM opportunity events will be held in Fall 2020.

Information will be posted to the website or you can email Malcolm Kates at
Border Collies Keep Birds at Bay at HRBT
Preliminary construction work on the HRBT Expansion Project is underway at the South Island and seasonal nesting birds have made their return to the area as well.  But this year, border collies are being used to coax the throngs of migratory birds to safer nesting grounds nearby. Click here to view the story.
Flyaway Geese border collie keeping migratory birds at bay
Rebecca Gibson with two of her 20 border collies patrolling South Island
  Seabirds are relocating to Ft. Wool
Pictured Above: Barges anchor near Ft. Wool as additional habitat for birds
We're All About Social Distancing
Whether in the project office or in the field, social distancing is maintained on the HRBT Expansion Project.
Pictured above are Bradley Weidenhammer, PE (VDOT Operations and Maintenance Mgr.) and Michelle Martin (WSP-Engineering Mgr. /VDOT consultant) working in their respective Norfolk project offices. Pictured below, crews pour concrete for slabs for temporary plants at the South Island.

Safe workplace guidelines are followed both inside and out!
Maritime Community Outreach
Members of the Hampton Roads Connectors Partners (HRCP) Communications and Marine Construction teams are busy with education outreach to local mariners and marine-associated businesses, providing information and answering questions about the planned marine construction activities and potential impacts to local waterways during construction.

Scheduled face-to-face meetings transitioned to virtual meetings as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. In May, more than 70 members of the maritime community, along with representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, came together online as HRCP provided an update on the HRBT Expansion Project and discussed the establishment of safe harbors in Willoughby Bay and Phoebus and anchor mooring areas in Willoughby Bay and Hampton Flats.

Another series of maritime community outreach meetings will be held this summer just prior to the start of construction. If you, or a local mariner you know, would like to participate, please send your name and contact details to Sarah Hoak, HRCP Maritime Communications Coordinator, at, and she will add you to the contact list. Maritime community focused collateral, such as posters and brochures, is also available for posting and distribution at local marinas and boat ramps.
HRBT in the Flightline of Heroes Salute
A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor and two P-51 Mustangs (WWII era) flew over the HRBT's South Island on May 12 as the formation flyover paid tribute to Virginia's frontline responders in the COVID-19 crisis. The flyover began in Richmond and ended at the Virginia Beach oceanfront. The hard-working border collies at the South Island had a front row seat as was beautifully captured in this U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Nin Leclerec.
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