September 2021 Edition
A Message From the Project Director
The HRBT Expansion Project reached several milestones last month. On the South Island, construction crews completed the underground concrete walls, also known as slurry walls, for the launch pit. The launch pit is where the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) will start digging the new tunnels. 

Also in August, the first concrete pilecap – with special corrosion-resistant reinforcement – was installed on the foundation pilings for the new trestle bridges across the harbor.

Over on the North Island, crews have nearly completed the first layer of sand fill for the island expansion. Roadway and bridge construction continues throughout the 10-mile corridor as crews prepare to start partial demolition on the Mallory Street Bridge over I-64.

The HRBT Expansion team looks forward to sharing additional project updates to the surrounding communities in the coming months. 

Jim Utterback, Project Director
South Island Construction Underway
In addition to the project’s very visible roadway construction and bridge pile-driving in Hampton and Norfolk, a great deal of activity is also underway on the HRBT South Island to prepare for the boring of two new tunnels.
Following the recent completion of the slurry walls for the tri-cell launch pit, a reinforced concrete collar called the “capping beam” is now being installed around the top perimeter of the entire tri-cell. This capping beam will help lock the individual slurry-wall panels together so they function as a single structural unit when the launch pit is excavated. Excavation of the pit, which is scheduled to start this fall, will create a space for assembly and launching of the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM). The TBM will be received later this year via the TBM Quay – a dock that is currently being built adjacent to the South Island, as shown on the image below. 

Also in preparation for the start of tunneling next year, crews are busy installing cementitious ground improvement to strengthen the soft soils along the TBM’s path at the South Island. This process includes two separate operations called jet grouting and deep soil mixing.
100-Year Design Life
Greater Durability = Fewer Traffic Disruptions
To help keep traffic flowing smoothly for generations to come, the HRBT Expansion has specified a 100-year design life for many major project components. Concrete bridges over salty and brackish water, such as the project’s marine trestles, are often susceptible to rapid deterioration due to the constant salt spray on these structures. To enable greater durability, the HRBT Expansion is incorporating technological advances in construction materials and using special corrosion-resistant reinforcing bars inside the concrete foundation piles, pilecaps, girders, and decks for the marine bridges. 
PICTURED ABOVE: Welder working on the splice for one of the TBM Quay’s steel piles. Pile will be driven to final grade after splice is complete.
Extra! Extra! HEAR All About It!

VDOT 511 App; Virginia State Police presence; weekly emails regarding construction and traffic impacts. These are just a few tools used by HRBT Expansion Project to keep citizens informed so they can drive safely through the project corridor.

In the latest episode of the HRBT Tunnel Talk podcast, we are joined by Jeff singleton, Incident Manager for HRCP, and Sgt. Michelle Anaya of the Virginia State Police as they discuss safety for motorists.

CLICK HERE to listen to HRBT Tunnel Talk!

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. 
DBE/SWaM Update
VDOT’s Design-Build partner HRCP continues to ensure that Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) and Small, Women and Minority-owned (SWaM) businesses have maximum opportunity to participate on the HRBT Expansion Project.

As of August 2021, the team has executed 252 DBE/SWaM agreements, totaling $346 million in contract awards, with 82% of the DBE/SWaM businesses based in Virginia.
Project Progress Photos
Concrete trucks cleaning up after delivering concrete for a slurry wall panel
Crew working on the superstructure for the marine conveyor system. The conveyor will be used to transport spoils from the tunnel boring operation to barges for disposal
Tower crane foundation shortly after concrete placement. The tower crane will service the TBM launching pit
Concrete placement for “mud mat” in preparation for capping beam installation at the tri-cell. The mud mat provides a level working platform for future activities
Reinforcing steel cages prior to concrete placement for a section of the capping beam. The capping beam, placed at the top of the slurry wall, ties together the individual slurry wall panels
At the North Island, a specialty vibro-compaction rig uses an underground probe to compact the first layer of sand fill for the island expansion
Employee Spotlight: Meet Elie Alshoufy
How A “Foodie” Became An Engineer – Or Vice Versa!
This month’s employee spotlight is on Elie Alshoufy (pictured left), Civil Lead Engineer for VDOT’s team at the HRBT Expansion Project. Elie oversees a team of engineers who review HRCP’s design for the new roadways, helping ensure the contract requirements are satisfied while working on a tight schedule to keep HRCP’s fast-paced design moving forward.

Elie says he’s happy to come to work every day because of the critical nature of his work, and the capable team he leads. He feels proud of the teamwork and collaboration in delivering the HRBT Expansion Project, and already looks forward to recognizing familiar elements when driving along the corridor once construction is complete. Being co-located in the same office with the design-builder allows clarifying questions in real time to help keep the reviews moving forward efficiently, so the designs can reach the final RFC stage – “Released for Construction” – and move from concept into reality. 

Elie is a world traveler and completed his Civil Engineering studies at the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology). He admits, “I enjoyed math and still do, and to be honest it is the only thing I was good at in school! But I was coached early on and developed a logical and analytical way of thinking that helped me get through school and get to college. In college I chose engineering: it felt like the right choice for my skill set.” Read more...
Community Engagement
With the last days of summer upon us, many group and organizations planned the last hurrah for the warm months, and the HRBT Expansion Project team came equipped with information and updates. Fort Monroe, Norfolk Collegiate, American Public Works Association, Virginia Society of Public Engineers, are a few of the organizations that were briefed on the project this past month.
VDOT-HRBT Communications Manager, Annalysce Baker participating in community outreach at Fort Monroe
VDOT-HRBT Engineer, Philip Casteen presenting to Norfolk Collegiate Students
HRBT Technical Director, Martha Gross presenting to a local chapter of the American Public Works Association
The HRBT Expansion Project team remains committed to connecting and communicating to the public. If you would like a team member to present to your business, group or organization, email us at or call 757.858.6776.
Get In the Know, and Then Go!
Sign up for the HRBT Expansion Project Alerts to get weekly updates on traffic and construction impacts. Perfect way to “know before you go!”
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.
Stay Informed