Elizabeth River Tunnels: News and Updates
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November 2013
Elizabeth River Tunnels Project Monthly Update

Travel Impacts

I-264 West Downtown Tunnel will be open the following time during rehabilitation:
  • Wednesday, Nov. 27 through Sunday, Dec. 1 for the Thanksgiving holiday. Full tunnel closures will resume on Monday, Dec. 2 at 8 p.m.
  • Remainder of 2013: The westbound tunnel will close Sun. – Thurs. from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. and Fri. and Sat. from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. with the exception of certain weekends and holidays.
Martin Luther King (MLK) Extension:
  • Effective Nov. 21 at 7 p.m.: the I-264 East Des Moines Ave. off-ramp on I-264 East is closed permanently. Motorists are permanently re-routed to the Effingham St. off-ramp.
  • The construction activities on I-264 East are suspended through Thanksgiving and will resume Dec. 2. The right lane and right shoulder is closed on I-264 East from just east of Portsmouth Blvd. to just east of Des Moines Ave. This closure will remain in place for up to 18 months.

Be Advised: Pile Driving Begins in Norfolk

The project team began pile driving activities on Nov. 22 to support construction of the Norfolk Approach to the new Midtown Tunnel. 
Crews began driving precast concrete piles that range from 18” to 24” square and up to 85 feet in length. They will serve as a vital foundation component of the new approach. Nearby 
residents and businesses may see and/or hear the operations, which are not expected to exceed the City of Norfolk’s noise ordinance.

Work hours are Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. now, through early spring.

Construction Milestones

Tunnel Rehabilitation

At the I-264 West Downtown Tunnel, project crews continue to make progress on rehabilitation activities. Fire board installation is 95 percent complete — trim board installation at the top of the tiles is the last step to complete for fire protection coverage. 
Conduit installation continues on the left lane wall. This month, crews finished installation and testing of all the wall anchors for the conduit rack.
Contractors have marked all locations for the jet fan anchor plates, which will hold the jet fans in place on the ceiling of the tunnel. Jet fan installation is scheduled for the 1st quarter of 2014.
Crews began repairing the concrete barriers at the base of the tunnel walls on the Norfolk side of the tunnel and will continue to move towards the Portsmouth exit.

Full westbound closures will continue Monday through Thursday 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. and Friday through Saturday 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. throughout spring 2014. Full nightly tunnel closures are scheduled most weekends, with the exception of holiday and designated event weekends.
Single lane closures, when scheduled, will occur on weeknights Monday through Thursday, 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The eastbound tunnel remains open to traffic traveling from Portsmouth to Norfolk. Once the rehabilitation work is completed on the westbound tube, work will begin on the eastbound tube.

For additional information and answers to frequently asked questions regarding the rehabilitation work, visit the rehabilitation page and view the fact sheet for a schedule of weekend closures.

Tunnel Fabrication

Fabrication of the first six of eleven tunnel elements for the Elizabeth River Tunnels Project continues at Sparrows Point, MD. The concrete work on Tunnel Elements 1 and 2 is complete and crews continue to outfit each element with bulkheads, hardware, and ballast tanks. 
Completion of the concrete work on Elements 3 and 4 is anticipated for the end of the year. The first six of the eleven elements are scheduled to be towed down the Chesapeake Bay to the construction site in Portsmouth, Virginia to begin installation in spring 2014. 
Production of the remaining five tunnel elements will begin after the initial float out of Elements 1-6. 

Norfolk Approach

At the Norfolk approach to the new Midtown Tunnel, the project team began excavation this month and continues to drive sheet piles for the Support of Excavation (SOE) wall for the boat-section and the cut-and-cover section. “Cut-and-cover” refers to the method of construction where a trench is excavated and then covered with an overhead support system strong enough to carry the load of what will be built above the tunnel. The “boat-section” of the tunnel refers to the open air, U-shaped section of concrete before the cut-and-cover.
The installation of pre-cast concrete piles began mid-Nov. 2013.

Portsmouth Approach

At the Portsmouth Approach, crews finished the temporary SOE work and poured the concrete plug foundation for the first section of the cut-and-cover. The “plug” refers to the first layer of concrete to go down under the final roadway.

As part of the concrete work, crews had to prepare a mock-up of the cut-and-cover section to test construction and concrete placement methods before building the permanent structure. The invert and walls of the concrete mock-up were completed this month; the roof portion is scheduled to be cast at a later date. In the meantime, excavation continues for the remainder of the cut-and-cover and boat-section.

Upcoming work includes the continued placement of surcharge in the boat-section and commencement of concrete placement on several permanent cut-and-cover segments.

Marine Work

The marine portion of the new Midtown Tunnel construction continues with pile driving and dredging. 
Crews continue to drive raker piles this month as part of marine construction activities at the new Midtown Tunnel site. “Raker piles” are driven at an angle adjacent to existing sheet piles and will be connected to the SOE wall to stabilize it as dredging is completed.
Mass dredging in preparation for tunnel element placement began this month. Most of the dredged material will be towed out into the Atlantic Ocean and dumped in an approved location. Additionally, part of the abandoned 30-inch water main has been uncovered and removed from the bottom of the Elizabeth River. 

Martin Luther King (MLK) Extension

Construction activities began on the MLK Extension this month, including the permanent closure of the I-264 East Des Moines Ave. off-ramp on Nov. 21. This permanent closure was studied and approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and identified as necessary to make the new MLK Extension connector ramps function safely and efficiently. It was initially shared with the public during the May 2011 design public hearings held by VDOT. Motorists will be permanently rerouted to the Effingham St. off-ramp.
Additionally, long-term eastbound lane closures near Frederick Blvd. began on Nov. 20. The closures are expected to last for up to 18 months.
For more information regarding construction activities on the MLK Extension, visit the Travel Impacts page or MLK Extension page at DriveERT.com.


Elizabeth River Tunnels Customer Service Center Open in Portsmouth

The Elizabeth River Tunnels Customer Service Center opened in Portsmouth at 700 Port Centre Parkway in October as a full-service E-ZPass and Pay by Plate facility.
Customers can visit the center to obtain an E-ZPass, register and service their Virginia E-ZPass account with an on-site agent, or service their ERT Pay by Plate account locally. The facility is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tolling on the Elizabeth River Tunnels begins Feb. 1, 2014. Gantries over the roadway will collect the toll electronically, with no cash option and no stopping to pay at tollbooths. 

Hampton Roads* residents who get a new Virginia E-ZPass transponder (on a new or pre-existing E-ZPass account) by Jan. 3, 2014 will get 5 free trips through the tunnels to use by June 30, 2014. 
For more information about tolling on the Elizabeth River Tunnels and the Customer Service Center, visit DriveERT.com.

*For purposes of this promotion, “Hampton Roads” is defined as the Norfolk/Portsmouth/Newport News Designated Market Area (DMA): Chesapeake, Hampton, Gloucester County, Isle of Wight County, James City County, Mathews County, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Surry County, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, York County, Eastern Shore, and the Outer Banks.

Connect With Us

Project information is available at www.DriveERT.com. For questions or comments, contact us at info@DriveERT.com.

To report an incident or maintenance issue at the Elizabeth River Tunnels, call our 24-hour hotline at 1-855-ERT-ROAD (1-855-378-7623). 


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