October/November 2020 Edition
A Message From the Project Director
Jim Utterback

As we broke ground for the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Expansion Project last week, the reality of true regional cooperation was apparent.

The Governor, state and local elected leaders and transportation officials came together for the Groundbreaking (Oct. 29-see story below), signaling the start of a five-year commitment to addressing long-overdue traffic solutions for Hampton Roads.

In just 18 months, we went from signing construction and financing agreements to putting shovels in the ground. The start of the expansion means we will reverse the impacts of congestion in the region, and improve travel time reliability for our community and important military and maritime stakeholders. 

This project is about more than new twin tunnels, the centerpiece of the project.  We are widening the interstate, rebuilding or replacing landside and marine bridges, expanding the North and South Islands, constructing 11 new buildings on the islands, and raising the trestle bridges by several feet.

There is a lot of heavy lifting to do over the next five years, but with the public’s patience, and a commitment to delivering this project by late 2025, I am certain the expansion will be a win-win for everyone.

Jim Utterback, Project Director
Virginia Launches Largest Infrastructure Project in Commonwealth’s History
Governor Ralph Northam and state and regional leaders joined the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to break ground on the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) Expansion Project on October 29. The $3.8 billion project will increase tunnel and interstate capacity along 9.9 miles of Interstate 64 between Hampton and Norfolk, reducing congestion and easing access to the Port of Virginia and the world’s largest Naval base.
PICTURED ABOVE: Governor Ralph Northam addressing HRCP Executives - Photo courtesy of “The Office of the Governor - Jack Mayer”
“For too long, traffic in the Hampton Roads region has bottlenecked at the tunnel,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “Folks in this region deserve an easier, more reliable commute. This is the largest project in our history, and it will ensure that people can move around faster, that commerce flows more easily, and that we finally connect the Peninsula and the Southside. This project will make everyone’s lives easier when it is completed.”
“The world’s best designers, builders, engineers, and technology are converging here in Virginia to build your new tunnel,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “We are bringing every asset to the table to give people what they may value most—time."
PICTURED ABOVE: (l to r) The Honorable Linda Johnson, Mayor of Suffolk and HRTAC chair; The Honorable Kenneth Alexander, Mayor of Norfolk and HRTAC member; Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine; Governor Ralph Northam - Photo courtesy of “The Office of the Governor - Jack Mayer”
Virginia crews will use a highly-specialized tunnel boring machine to dig through soil and construct tunnel segments simultaneously. The advanced technology is used in the construction of highly complex projects such as Manhattan’s Second Avenue Subway. The new HRBT is only the fourth roadway project to use this equipment in the United States. The machinery is under construction in Germany and is expected to arrive in Hampton Roads in 2021 for assembly, which will take several months. It is expected to begin tunneling operations in early 2022.
“VDOT is using this advanced boring technology for the first time ever,” said VDOT Commissioner Stephen Brich. “We’re doing it because this is one of the nation’s most important maritime channels, and this technology means less disruption to military and commercial activity, and less impact on marine life.” 
The project has received support from the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission (HRTAC), federal, and local partners. Design-build contractor Hampton Roads Connector Partners (HRCP) received Notice to Proceed for full construction activities in September. The project is expected to be completed in November 2025.
“The HRBT expansion project is a great example of how the legislature, VDOT, and HRTAC are working together to achieve a greater vision for transportation in Hampton Roads and provide solutions to bring the region out of gridlock,” said Kevin Page, HRTAC Executive Director.

(Governor's Release)
PICTURED ABOVE: BREAKING GROUND. (l to r) HRBT Project Director, Jim Utterback; HRCP Project Executive, José Martin; President of Dragados USA, José Mendez; Governor Ralph Northam; Chairman of VINCI Construction LLC, Christian Tricoire; Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine; Sr. Vice President of Flatiron, Kevin Powell; VDOT Commissioner Stephen Brich - Photo courtesy of “The Office of the Governor - Jack Mayer”
Catch a Glimpse of the Future!
Here is a sneak peak of the future Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel and expanded I-64 corridor, coming in 2025! This animated corridor concept video was created by CCI Engineering Services, a SWaM company. 
One Particular (Safe) Harbour
“But there's this one particular harbour
So far but yet so near
Where I see the days as they fade away
And finally disappear”

-Jimmy Buffett-
PICTURED ABOVE: Willoughby Bay Safe Harbor is a respite for HRBT Expansion workboats
The Safe Harbor is sprouting 26 piles to be used by HRBT Expansion Team workboats for mooring while crews widen and replace bridge trestles.

More important, it is a safe harbor for them when powerful winds and rough seas kick up from nearby Chesapeake Bay.

Each of the piles is lit and buoys surround the mooring grounds.
PICTURED ABOVE: Willoughby Bay Safe Harbor at night
HRBT TBM Taking Shape...Across the Pond

The virtual world did not disappoint as VDOT participated with Hampton Roads Connector Partners this month for a virtual factory tour at Herrenknecht AG’s headquarters in Germany where the HRBT Expansion project’s TBM is being built. Parts of the TBM are also being made in Italy and Slovakia so the virtual tour included stops at plants in those two countries as well.

Both Teams visited the three countries, virtually, in less than two hours to witness the construction of the 46 foot Variable Density TBM that will be boring new twin tunnels next to the existing HRBT. The TBM will be shipped to Hampton Roads in fall 2021 and is expected to begin boring the first tunnel in early 2022.

(PICTURED TO THE LEFT: Herrenknecht AG’s headquarters in Germany)
PICTURED ABOVE: Herrenknecht AG’s headquarters in Germany
Hello, My Name Is…?
The TBM Naming Contest launched this month, inviting local middle school students (public, private and homeschool) to compete to name the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM), a highly-specialized piece of equipment designed to bore through deep soils and construct new twin tunnels.
“This contest draws attention to the real-world applications of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) studies and celebrates the creativity of future drivers in the region,” said HRBT Expansion Project Director Jim Utterback. “We welcome the participation of the students and look forward to seeing the entries.”
PICTURED ABOVE: HRBT Expansion Communications Manager, Paula Miller and HRCP Communications Manager, Steve Meyers hosting the TBM Naming Contest news conference.
Earlier this month, Paula Miller, HRBT Expansion Communications Manager and Steve Meyers, HRCP Communications Manager hosted a news conference to announce the naming contest, garnering local attention of media, transportation professionals and community members. Click here to watch the news conference.
Middle school students in localities within the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission (HRTAC) District membership are eligible to participate. The winning name will be prominently displayed on the TBM, allowing the winning school to have a contribution to this historic, transformative project. The name will be revealed at a ceremony in Spring 2021. First, second and third place winners will be recognized at the ceremony.
Check out the latest edition of HRBT Tunnel Talk, the official project podcast, featuring Delceno Miles of The Miles Agency, and Mike Carosi of OnPoint Communications, who both serve as communications consultants for the project. In this episode, Miles and Carosi highlight the TBM Naming Contest and encourage schools across the region to participate.
For more information on the contest visit:
DBE/SWaM Opportunity Conference
On October 1st, Hampton Roads Connector Partners hosted the second annual HRBT Expansion Project DBE/SWaM Opportunity Conference with two hundred and thirty six (236) participants -- made up of small business owners, community organization members, and VDOT partners – in attendance.
This year, the conference took place virtually and featured several distinguished speakers, a detailed project update, a panel of small business owners, and a virtual “Exhibitor Networking” session in fifteen different Microsoft Teams meeting rooms. The conference also introduced the inaugural HRBT Expansion Project DBE/SWaM Success Stories publication which features stories of various DBE and SWaM firms succeeding on the project (click here to see the publication).
To view a full length video of the event, please click here.

Project Outreach
October was another busy month for outreach. Here are just a few groups we reached:
Project Director Jim Utterback gave a virtual presentation on Transportation in the 757 to the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. He was joined by HRPDC Executive Director Bob Crum and state Senator Monty Mason.

Jim also participated in a similar presentation to the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization on October 15.

Earlier this week, communications team members Paula Miller and Delceno Miles, presented the most up-to-date project news to the Tidewater Community College’s (TCC) President’s Board.

Next month, virtual outreach is already scheduled for the Warwick (Newport News) Rotary Club, Dominion Energy employees and another presentation to TCC.
Employee Spotlights
Winner Among Us!
Pictured Above: Brian Ballard - HRCP Maintenance of Traffic Manager
The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Expansion Project boasts a roster of talented national and international experts in tunneling, bridges, roads, and even a U.S. Olympian!
Brian Ballard, HRCP’s Maintenance of Traffic (MOT) Manager, has an Olympic ring to prove his competitive prowess in Trap shooting at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea where he finished ninth overall. He was 27 years old.
Trap shooting has been an Olympic sport for more than a hundred years and “is typically shot with a 12 gauge shotgun….at either single or double targets… referring to the number of clay targets which are launched simultaneously,” according to Wikipedia.
Ballard spent eight years in a marksmanship unit for the US Army, but he can trace his precision shotgun skills back to Northern Idaho where he grew up and started competing in American Trap at the age of 10. By 13, he was named to his first All-American team, and the titles kept coming, including earning a total of five All-American team titles, three-time National Trap Champion and a second place win at national competition in 1988 which secured his spot at the ’88 Olympic Games.
Ballard beams with joy when he talks about this opportunity of a lifetime, not to mention walking around the Olympic Village and passing Olympic giants like Carl Lewis, Edwin Moses and David Robinson. Walk with him down memory lane and the excitement of being with such talent at the top of their game seems as palpable today as it must have been thirty-two years ago.
Pictured Above: Ballad's Olympic Ring
Upon passing the Olympic torch after his competitive years, Ballard pivoted to heavy civil construction work and his career stops took him around the country to big bridge jobs, interstate and interchange challenges and even to Vancouver, B.C. where he teetered out of helicopters to erect 500 kilovolt lines on large field towers.  Ballard landed in Hampton Roads in April 2019 by way of Greenville, SC where he also worked for Flatiron, a HRCP construction partner on the HRBT Expansion. Ballard expresses certainty that Hampton Roads will be his final career stop. The expansion project is another first for him- the first bored tunnel project he has worked on, and one he calls “most intriguing.”
When Ballard sees light at the end of the tunnel project in 2025, he plans to head back west, closer to his roots and where he can keep both feet on the ground.
Her Work Is All About Quality
Pictured Above: Julie Perkoski, HRBT Expansion Quality Manager
As the oldest of four children, Julie Perkoski knew her two younger sisters and brother might be influenced by her career choice.
Julie, a licensed civil engineer, earned her Bachelor of Architectural Engineering degree from Penn State. 
Not surprisingly, both sisters also became engineers. One is the mechanical engineering department chair at the University of Michigan and the other is Assistant District Engineer for Design at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s District IV.
Since blazing a trail in a profession primarily dominated by men, Julie has been monitoring large and small construction projects as owner's consultant for the past 35 years. Twenty-seven of those years have been on VDOT projects for either Parsons Brinckerhoff (now WSP), or for her current employer of five years, CES Consulting, LLC. 
Her professional portfolio includes work on the I-64 Widening project on the Peninsula, the new Midtown Tunnel project, VDOT’s Traffic Management System (TMS) and now the Commonwealth’s largest-ever construction project-HRBT Expansion.
Wherever work takes her, Julie’s duties are well defined: oversee the overall quality of projects on the owner's behalf and ensure they live up to contract specifications.
“For years it was me sitting in a room full of guys,” Julie chuckles. “It is changing. In the last five years I’ve noticed a lot more (women).”  She is particularly encouraged by the number of young female engineers she has encountered on the HRBT Expansion Project.
Professional camaraderie led Julie to join the Women’s Transportation Seminar- Hampton Roads Chapter (WTS-HRC), and she quickly deployed her leadership skills by serving first as scholarship chair, then chapter vice-president and currently as president.  She also devotes time as an advisory board member for Hampton Public Schools' Architecture, Engineering and Environmental Academy. Julie views it as both an opportunity to encourage more women to try Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines, and to help students who may not be college bound to understand other related career opportunities, including what she refers to as “the inspection side of the business.”
Attention to detail apparently is a skill applied in the workplace and to her hobby, sewing. She is also an accomplished seamstress. Julie makes costumes for the Betty Smith School of Dance in Hampton and previously for the Peninsula Community Theater. 
Suffice it to say there is no tiptoeing around her many talents because Julie also tap dances!
Social Connecting
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Photo of the Month
PICTURED ABOVE: Tis the (Fall) Season to Break Ground!
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