April 2020 Edition
A Message From the Director
Jim Utterback
A dedicated team of professionals committed to moving the HRBT Expansion Project forward, while still practicing social distancing, is keeping the project on track.  

We have started installing modular office space on the South Island (see pictures later in this update) and are preparing the construction staging area on Willoughby Spit.  We continue both internal and external daily virtual meetings, including with the cities of Norfolk and Hampton and other key stakeholders. Soon, we will add public outreach to the list of our virtual communication capabilities.

The large lift boats performing geotechnical work near the bridge trestles have completed their on-site work, and the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) that will mine twin tunnels next to the existing HRBT is in design (read more below).

We look forward to starting initial construction activities on the South Island this spring. Listen to what it takes to launch a project like this on our latest HRBT Tunnel Talk Podcast (details below)


Jim Utterback, Project Director
Virginia Secretary of Transportation Visits the HRBT Expansion Site
Pictured Below: Site Visit with Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine
Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine, accompanied by Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Deputy Commissioner Rob Cary, made a special visit to the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel South Island on March 26 to observe early works on the expansion project.
Secretary Valentine met with HRBT Expansion Project Director Jim Utterback, Hampton Roads Connector Partners (HRCP) Project Executive Jose Martin and other VDOT and HRCP Expansion Team members. 

One year ago, Secretary Valentine was in Norfolk with Governor Ralph Northam for the signing of a Comprehensive Agreement with HRCP and a Project Agreement for Funding and Administration (PAFA) with the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission (HRTAC).
Secretary Valentine says collaboration on the expansion project means the state and region are delivering a project to ease congestion, increase jobs and support commerce, tourism, shipbuilding, the Port of Virginia, and our military.
Constructing the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM)
The engineering centerpiece of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) Expansion Project is in design in Schwanau, a town in Southwest Germany near the French border. 

Hampton Roads Connector Partners (HRCP) commissioned Herrenknecht, a world-renowned tunnel boring machine manufacturer, to design, fabricate and deliver the project’s Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) to Hampton Roads in Fall 2021.

Martha Gross, the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) tunnel lead for the project, says the final design will produce a machine that combines technical features tailored specifically to mine through soft soils in the Hampton Roads Harbor.At 46 feet in diameter, the machine will be the second-largest TBM ever used in the United State s.
Although design remains in its early stages, construction materials for the machine are expected to be ordered in the coming months with actual fabrication getting underway in later in 2020. By spring 2021, manufacturing of the TBM should be near completion. Once finished, it will be assembled on site in Germany, tested, disassembled and prepared for shipping by boat to the project site. Shipping takes several months with an anticipated arrival date in Hampton Roads of Fall 2021. 

Once the TBM reaches its destination, it will be offloaded by a heavy-lift crane to a dock on the South Island and reassembled in a 65 foot-deep launch pit where it is schedule to begin mining in early 2022.

During the fabrication stage, the TBM will be assigned a name bestowed on it by school children from Hampton Roads. More details about the naming process in a future update.
HRBT Tunnel Talk Podcast: Construction Can Advance Once A Permit Is Obtained
Hampton Roads Connector Partners (HRCP) has been conducting limited early works for the HRBT Expansion Project because marine construction cannot move forward without  the necessary permits and a series of other regulatory permissions . Federal and state agencies must first approve plans for any project that will cross wetlands, streams and other bodies of water.

In the next podcast installment of HRBT Tunnel Talk, VDOT Communications Manager Paula Miller speaks with the project director and environmental specialists for VDOT and HRCP about specific steps to secure a permit.

CLICK HERE to l isten to the most recent podcast about hurdles that must be cleared before a Joint Permit is issued. You can also listen by searching HRBT Tunnel Talk on  iTunes, Apple Podcast, Spotify and Libsyn.com
Setting Up Shop
Twenty-eight modular trailers are in place on the South Island at the HRBT and will serve as office and engineering space for HRCP and VDOT personnel working on the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Expansion Project.

The trailers are stacked two high and will remain in place through the life of the project.
Emancipation Oak Baseline Assessment
Arborists from Straughan Environmental – a Columbia, MD based engineering and environmental management firm focused on environmental compliance and sustainability – performed an assessment of the Emancipation Oak on the grounds of Hampton University. 

The Emancipation Oak, is a Southern Live Oak tree located on the eastern edge of the university near the intersection of Settlers Landing Road and I-64 east in the city of Hampton. The Emancipation Oak was designated as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1974 and has been named one of the “10 Great Trees of the World” by the National Geographic Society. Thought to be at least 300 years old, the beautiful live oak has a 68-inch diameter trunk, a 100-foot wide canopy, and stands 50 feet tall. 
As a result of the historical significance of the tree, located outside of the construction area, the project’s design-build contract calls for a pre-construction baseline assessment of the health of the Emancipation Oak and a row of loblolly pines near the oak separating the tree from I-64. Then, once construction begins, periodic assessments will be performed to make sure the tree is not being impacted as a result of construction activity. A final assessment will be made at the completion of the project to confirm the health and viability of the Emancipation Oak and the loblolly pines.
Photo courtesy of Steve Meyers (HRCP)
HRCP Project Update: Proper Positioning
Pictured below is a GPS Receiver set on top of a survey control point – the pink circle and numbers on the concrete below the receiver. The HRCP Survey Team uses this equipment to ensure that the roadways, bridges, trestles and tunnels will be built to a set of precise specifications, placed in the correct location, and positioned in the correct alignment with existing structures.
HRBT Outreach Goes Virtual

Public outreach can continue at a distance. There is no better time than the present to schedule a virtual outreach meeting.

The HRBT Expansion Project Communications team is available to meet with your civic, business, professional and social groups about the project, and we can do it virtually! 

For more information or to schedule a virtual outreach meeting, email HRBTinfo@VDOT.Virginia.gov
HRBT Expansion Construction Engineer David Martin wears his "GO ORANGE" safety gear for National Work Zone Awareness Week.
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