December 2021 Edition
A Message From the Project Director
As we reflect on 2021, we are proud of the significant progress already made on the HRBT Expansion Project. Crews have been working simultaneously on island preparations for tunnel work, construction of the new marine trestles and the many roadway and bridge widenings. Just this month, we welcomed Mary, the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM), to Hampton Roads. We are anxious to see the TBM reassembled on the South Island over the coming several months and to start her tunneling debut in mid-2022. 
We appreciate all the wonderful partners who are working together to make this project a success, including the motorists who travel through the project corridor every day. Remember, slow down, phones down, and pay extra attention in the work zones. Your role is crucial to the successful completion of the project by helping to keep our workers safe on the job site, each and every day. 
Happy holidays from the HRBT Expansion Project team. 

Jim Utterback, Project Director
HRBT Expansion Project Celebrates the Arrival of Mary the TBM
December 14th was a milestone day for the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) Expansion Project, as we celebrated the arrival of the Tunnel Boring Machine at the Port of Virginia. Named “Mary” after Mary Winston Jackson, the famed NASA engineer, by Hampton Roads middle school students from St. Gregory the Great Catholic School, this highly specialized piece of equipment is designed to dig through the soils under the Harbor Channel at HRBT to construct the new twin tunnels. (Click here to read more about the naming contest).

Dignitaries and representatives from the Commonwealth of Virginia, VDOT, the City of Hampton, the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission, the Federal Highway Administration, the Port of Virginia, Hampton Roads Connector Partners and others gathered to welcome Mary to Virginia. After remarks, a model replica of Mary was unveiled during the ceremony by officials and the students from St. Gregory the Great Catholic School who named Mary.
PICTURED ABOVE: A model of Mary the TBM was unveiled during the TBM Arrival Ceremony on Dec. 14, 2021
When fully assembled, Mary will be 46 feet tall, more than 430 feet in length and weigh over 4,700 tons or 9 million pounds. For perspective, that’s the weight of ten fully loaded Boeing 747 airplanes. On the cutterhead or “face” of Mary is a creative representation of the Hampton Roads regional flag, the blue represents the maritime aspects of the region, while the green signifies the land-based agriculture and industry. Each of the 14 stars represent an HRTAC member city or county.
As the first bored tunnel project to be constructed by VDOT, Mary represents the centerpiece of the HRBT Expansion Project. The TBM will take about a year to bore from its starting point on the South Island towards the North Island at the rate of up to 50 feet per day. Upon reaching the North Island, it will take four months to turn the machine around before she spends another year digging a parallel tunnel back to the South Island. Each tunnel will be about 8,000 feet long, and the deepest segments will be about 150 feet below the water’s surface. The new tunnels will be about 50 feet deeper than the existing tunnels.
Project Progress Photos
The girders and bridge deck that form the support for the Mallory Street bridge were carefully removed so that crews can prepare to rebuild the bridge.
Crews work on piles for the new north trestle bridges.
The quay is being constructed to receive delivery of the components of the TBM at the south island.
Quality control checks are performed on the bridge widening work at Willoughby Bay bridge.
Concrete segments are produced for the tunnel lining, and when installed will create a circular ring around the diameter of the tunnel.
A conveyor system is being assembled at the south island to transport material excavated from the TBM.
Crews prepare equipment for slurry walls at the North Island to construct the receiving pit for the TBM.
A view of the expanded North Island with work underway to prepare the TBM receiving pit.
HRBT Project Team Delivers on Holiday Spirit

In celebration of the holidays, members of the HRBT Expansion Project team adopted and provided clothing and toys for 75 angels for the Salvation Army Angel Tree and donated over over two full boxes of toys for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots.
PICTURED ABOVE: "HRBT elves" assist with collecting and organizing donations for the Angel Tree and Toys for Tots.
PICTURED ABOVE: Members of the HRBT Expansion Project team donated two full trucks of clothing and toys.
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