May/June 2021 Edition
A Message From the Project Director
Jim Utterback
This month the HRBT Expansion Project reached another milestone when Mary the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) passed the Factory Acceptance Test at the Herrenknect facility in Germany. Find out more about Mary the TBM in this newsletter. 

This summer we expect to make great progress towards the HRBT expansion. Motorists will see construction areas expand throughout the project corridor, an increase in overnight lane closures, some detours to support the construction operations, and bridge widenings and construction over the land and water. 

Summer construction activities will likely be a factor to consider with travel plans. Motorists are encouraged to plan their trips ahead of time whether they plan to drive to work or go to the beach. Most importantly, drivers should pay attention to the new traffic patterns, eliminate distractions in their vehicles, and drive safely while travelling through the work zone.

A new and improved driving experience through the HRBT is well on the way!

Jim Utterback, Project Director
Signed, Sealed and Soon-to-Be Delivered
Mary, the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM), completed the Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) on Friday, May 21, completing another milestone of the HRBT Expansion project. The project’s design-build contractor, Hampton Roads Connector Partners (HRCP), hired Herrenknecht to manufacture the TBM in Germany. The FAT is the final stage of the manufacturing process, which allows for a comprehensive review and testing of the TBM’s capabilities at the manufacturer’s site prior to delivery and commissioning.
The FAT was conducted to demonstrate that all systems function as designed and to address any adjustments needed while the machine is still at the factory. The FAT is a rigorous process that took place over several weeks as engineers from HRCP and Herrenknecht examined and tested every component of Mary.
“Completing the Factory Acceptance Test means that Mary the TBM is one step closer to starting excavation on VDOT’s first ever bored tunnels. The new twin tunnels are the centerpiece of the HRBT Expansion Project,” said James Utterback, Project Director for the HRBT Expansion Project. Read more….

Want to marvel at the massive machine known as "Mary the TBM?" Take a look a the drone flyover video!
Roadway Construction Continues
Roadway construction work is underway on I-64 in both Norfolk and Hampton as well as on specific streets within the two cities. It is important for motorists to look for and pay attention to the various WORK ZONE traffic signs and message boards, and to exercise extreme caution when driving through the work zones – both for the protection and safety of the construction workers along the roadway as well as the safety and well-being of fellow motorists.
Roadway Work in Norfolk
Current construction work is concentrated on the W. Bay Avenue/Oastes Creek Bridge and on the inside shoulder of I-64 between Willoughby Spit and Patrol Road. The construction of temporary work trestle adjacent to the existing on-ramp to I-64 East from W. Bay Avenue is advancing – over the coming weeks work in this area will shift to constructing the new on-ramp from W. Bay Avenue to I-64 eastbound. Intermittent closures of the existing on-ramp will occur nightly from 7 p.m. until 5 a.m. and will continue through late December 2021. A designated vehicle detour is marked with road signage for use during those closures. 

Roadway construction work in the W. Evans Street Bridge area of I-64 will begin in June, resulting in a full road closure of W. Evans Street under the I-64 overpass. The road closure and detour (using Executive Drive and Granby Street) will remain in place until Fall 2021. (PICTURED LEFT: W. Evans detour map)
PICTURED ABOVE: West Evans Street Detour Map
PICTURED ABOVE: Click to read Traffic Alert issued about West Evans Street Closure and Detour
Roadway Work in Hampton
Over the coming weeks, construction work associated with the Mallory Street Bridge replacement will begin in Hampton. 

During the past few weeks, traffic ramps leading to Mallory Street from I-64 eastbound and westbound have been widened, restriped and barrier walls installed. Beginning in early June, both lanes of traffic on the Mallory Street Bridge will be shifted to the south side of the existing bridge to allow for bridge replacement work to begin on the north side of the bridge. This roadway work will not result in lane closures – both lanes of traffic (one northbound and one southbound) on the bridge will remain open. Notices of construction activity and travel lane shifts on Mallory Street Bridge will be communicated to the public and will be displayed on road signage throughout the construction area.
Additional roadway and marine construction information and updates, as well as traffic alerts, will be communicated to the public as the project advances. To keep up-to-date, follow the HRBT Expansion project on social media or bookmark this link to the HRBT website. 
Safety is our number one priority – for both construction workers and motorists - during construction. Please be mindful of the changing traffic patterns, work zone signs, and message boards while driving through the work zones.
Project Progress Photos
The design-build process for the new twin tunnels and replacement or upgrades to 28 bridges in the HRBT Expansion Project corridor is a huge production. While the bridges and the tunnel boring machine are currently center stage, it takes a strong supporting cast to make it all come together. Pictured below are a few of the project “supporters.” 
3 PICTURES ABOVE: Concrete cylinder piles 54 inches in diameter are being driven to support the new permanent trestle bridges.
PICTURED ABOVE: A rebar cage is inspected for quality and conformance to the design plans.
2 PICTURES ABOVE: A rebar cage is assembled to reinforce the slurry walls, deep underground concrete walls surrounding the TBM launching pit
Be Present. Be Focused. Be Safe.
PICTURED ABOVE: Demonstration/Training on Fall Protection
Safety is always first on the HRBT Expansion Project. From daily toolbox talks, to peer-to-peer reminders, it is our mission to ensure that everyone goes home the same way they came to work – SAFE. 

During National Construction Safety Week, May 3 – 7, project team members engaged in daily safety workshops and simulations to include Cellphone Use/Distracted Drivers; Traffic Control Accidents; Hydration and Heat Stress; Fall Protection, Lifelines, and Tool Tethering; Excavation and Trenching Safety; and Crane Safety.

During the week-long awareness campaign, project leadership stressed the importance of safety at all levels within the company, and a commitment to keep the safety and security of each team member as a top project priority. The responsibility of an overall safe work environment relies on each team member from the executive to the laborer, to “be present – be focused – and be safe.” 
Employee Spotlights
Annalysce Baker, VDOT-HRBT Communications Manager
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) welcomes Ms. Annalysce Baker as the new Communications Manager for the HRBT Expansion Project. Baker joins the team from Atlanta, bringing extensive experience in transportation communications from both the owner and contractor sides of the industry. She spent several years working with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) as Communications Manager for the Metro-Atlanta District, and most recently provided communications expertise for an international design-build contractor on the Transform 285/400 Project in Atlanta.
A native of Stone Mountain, Georgia, Baker is a graduate of the University of West Georgia with a degree in Mass Communications. She is a proud “dog Mom” to a 100-pound America Bulldog and a 12-pound Terrier mix. (pictured right)

We asked Baker about her career, why transportation, and what she enjoys doing in her spare time:

What are your communications goals for the HRBT Expansion?
My overarching goal for the HRBT Expansion project is making this project understandable to the public. I would like the public to feel they have the best information about the project from lane closures to major milestones.
What excites you about the transportation industry?
I LOVE construction. I wish there was a candle scent for it. I grew up around construction my entire life. I love this field because my step-dad was a construction contractor for houses. I like to think of it like this - he built houses and I help build roadways. I love how men and women can leave their mark in this world by building infrastructure that will last from 20 to 100 years. This is something they can share with their children and future generations.
How did you get started in your career?
I happened upon a career in transportation. I applied for a position with the Georgia Department of Transportation in 2014. Thankfully, my boss at the time saw enough in me to hire me to represent the Metro-Atlanta district (District 7). This is the smallest district geographically, but the largest by population. After Georgia DOT, I started working for an international construction company that started construction on a major interchange project for the Georgia DOT in metro-Atlanta.
What is your advice to other women, and particularly women of color, who are interested in working in the transportation industry?
I have many female friends who are engineers, working in this industry that I truly admire. When I started working on the HRBT Expansion Project, I was amazed at the number of women working on the project. My mom always reminds me there is no place that I do not belong. Therefore, my advice to other women, especially women of color is “You belong in this industry”. There is room for you here. This industry needs your personal and professional experience.
When you’re not working, what are your favorite things to do?
My favorite activities are anything outside such as hiking, going to the beach, kayaking. I have two dogs and I love to take them out with me whenever I can. I love to travel internationally. It gives me the opportunity to immerse myself in different cultures and languages. I look forward to travelling again.
Keeping Up With the Joneses: Sarah Jones & Kayla Jones
Sarah Jones serves as the Fleet and Logistics Manager, responsible for managing equipment, and coordinating deliveries for the HRBT Expansion project. Kayla Jones is a field engineer who focuses her skills on the portals and excavation work to prepare for the new tunnels. In addition to sharing a last name, these two share DNA. Kayla is Sarah’s daughter and they both work for Hampton Roads Connector Partners (HRCP).
As a young child, Kayla Jones remembers driving over the Jordan Bridge with her family, where her mother drew attention to the role she helped play in its construction. Kayla says stories like that inspired her to follow her mother, Sarah, into the construction industry. The two feel very fortunate that they have the opportunity to work together on the largest infrastructure project in the history of the state.

The mother-daughter team represent two of many women who are helping to bring the HRBT Expansion Project to life. The project has nearly doubled its goal for employing women, with many serving in professional engineering and leadership roles. As for Sarah and Kayla, they say they feel blessed and honored to be working on this monumental project, and both say they enjoy learning from others around them. 

Read more of their story in the June 2021 Edition of the HRBT Magazine.
Virtual Tour
Be our guest! You are invited to a virtual tour of the HRBT Expansion Project led by Martha Gross, VDOT’s Technical Director for Tunnels and Islands for the project. The virtual tour, which debuted at the Women’s Transportation Seminar 2021 Conference in May, includes the project history, comments from project stakeholders and a behind-the-scenes look at some of the technical innovations, like the construction the 400-foot long, 4,000- ton tunnel boring machine, recently named “Mary”, after Mary Jackson, one of NASA’s “Hidden Figures”. Her name was chosen through a contest among area middle schoolers. 
Talk of the Town
This month members of the HRBT Expansion Project team engaged citizens throughout the region on the project’s progress. Thanks to LEAD Hampton Roads/LEAD 757, Mallory Street Bridge Stakeholders Group, Newport News Rotary, and the DBE/SWaM Community Partner Forum for giving us the time to share the news about the HRBT Expansion!
PICTURED ABOVE: Project Director Jim Utterback presenting to LEAD 757
PICTURED ABOVE: Communications Manager Annalysce Baker presenting to the Newport News Rotary Club
PICTURED ABOVE: DBE/SWaM Community Partner Forum Panel 
Social Connecting
The HRBT Expansion Project team is committed to staying connected with the region for the life of the project. Like, join, follow, or tweet about the project on our social media channels.
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