Volume 5, Issue 1 | September 2016
Elizabeth River Tunnels: News and Updates
Connections features updates to construction, traffic, community impacts, and other issues to keep you up to date on the progress of the Elizabeth River Tunnels Project.
I-264 West: Downtown Tunnel open with a single lane closure Friday and Saturday, Sept. 30-Oct. 1 from 8 p.m. each night until 8 a.m. the following morning, and Sunday, Oct. 2 from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. the following morning. I-264 East/West: Downtown Tunnel open with a mobile lane closure Sunday, Oct. 2 from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m.
U.S. 58 East: Full weekend tunnel closure from Friday, Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. through Monday, Oct. 3 at 5 a.m. U.S. 58 East: Midtown Tunnel open with a single lane closure Monday through Thursday, Oct. 3-6 from 9:30 a.m. until 5 a.m. the following morning.
London Boulevard East/ U.S. 58 East: Full ramp closure from Friday, Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. through Monday, Oct. 3 at 5 a.m.
Frederick Boulevard North/I-264 East: Full ramp closure Monday through Thursday, Oct. 3-6 from 9 p.m. each night until 5 a.m. the following morning.
High Street: Full closure between Constitution Avenue and Confederate Avenue Saturday, Oct. 1 from 5 a.m. to Sunday, Oct. 2 at noon.
I-264 East: Lane closures between Frederick Boulevard and Effingham Street Sunday through Thursday, Oct. 2-6 from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. the following morning.
I-264 East/West: Lane closures between Effingham Street and Frederick Boulevard Monday through Thursday, Oct. 3-6 from 9 p.m. each night until 5 a.m. the following morning.
Visit the Travel Impacts page for more information.
Midtown Tunnel 5K Draws Crowd
On Saturday, August 27, Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC) hosted the first ever Midtown Tunnel 5K run/walk celebrating the opening of the new Midtown Tunnel. This 5K gave over 400 lucky participants an up-close look at the new tunnel and the opportunity to run a course taking them 90 feet under the Elizabeth River.
The 5K course started near the ERC offices at Pinner’s Point, first going east through the new Midtown Tunnel with a turn around on the Norfolk side for a return trip through the tunnel back to Portsmouth. Participants faced 4% grades in both directions of the run through the tube, which presented a unique challenge for many of the runners.
All participants received a personalized race bib, a commemorative technical shirt, participant metal and event bag. The top three male and female finishers were awarded plaques and E-ZPasses to help future trips through the tunnel remain quick and easy.
All entry fees benefited the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and additional donations were accepted online with registration, at packet pick up and on the morning of the race. Including ERC’s contribution, the event raised more then $6,700 dollars for the Foodbank.
For event photos, visit the ERC Flickr.
Downtown Tunnel Rehab Now Complete
Rehabilitation work at the Interstate 264 (I-264) Downtown Tunnel is now complete. Motorists can travel between Norfolk and Portsmouth with the confidence of knowing the Downtown Tunnel will be open and their trips will be unhindered by full tunnel closures related to construction. While construction activities will no longer cause full tunnel closures, maintenance activities will necessitate scheduled lane closures that are coordinated to limit the impact on the traveling public.
Opened in 1952, the now westbound Downtown Tunnel was the first fixed crossing under the Elizabeth River between Norfolk and Portsmouth. Rehabilitation of the I-264 West Downtown Tunnel began with full weekend closures in August 2013 and shifted to weeknight closures in November 2013. Rehabilitation of the I-264 East Downtown Tunnel began in July 2014 with both full weekend closures and weeknight single lane closures and was completed mid-summer 2016.
Tunnel rehabilitation consists of structural, fire, and life safety improvements, such as fireproofing, jet fan ventilation systems, and LED lighting. Improvement efforts also include installation of new traffic cameras for incident detection, lane use signals, additional safety signage and tole and concrete repairs. In addition, the tunnel was repaved and highly reflective lane striping was applied to the roadway surface. Tunnel repaving activities typically withstand approximately 10-15 years of regular use.
Limited Time Fee Reduction - Now Through Nov. 1
Elizabeth River Tunnels (ERT) is granting a limited-time fee reduction through November 1, 2016 to all E-ZPass customers who’ve received Pay by Plate invoices and notices for instances when their E-ZPass accounts had a negative balance at time of travel.
Through Nov. 1, E-ZPass customers who have invoices from ERT will pay only the E-ZPass rate, and those with Violation Notices and Final Notices will receive a 50% reduction in their administrative fees. Customers who’ve gone into collections are also eligible for fee reductions.
To take advantage of this fee reduction offer, customers who have received invoices and notices from ERT must call 757-821-2659 or come to the ERT Customer Service Center, 700 Port Centre Parkway, Suite 2B, Portsmouth, VA between the hours of 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday – Saturday. E-ZPass customers who have received collections notices from Linebarger, Goggin, Blair and Sampson (LGBS) will need to call the number on the letter they’ve received to settle their account. Some customers may need to contact both LGBS and ERT Customer Service Center to resolve the amounts in collections and those currently in the Invoice or Notice phase.
Edmarc Golf Tournament
Elizabeth River Tunnels (ERT) was the presenting sponsor of the 20th Annual Edmarc Charity Golf Tournament this past August. Hosted in Smithfield, the tournament benefits the Edmarc Hospice for Children in Portsmouth. Over the years this tournament has brought in over $425,000 to support the work that Edmarc does. ERT employees have also volunteered their time to help with a variety of tasks that help the tournament come together as well as during other times of the year. As members of the volunteer board, ERT is proud to stand in support of Edmarc at sunny golf tournaments and more.
Jimmy Eanes (left), Maintenance Supervisor, and Ben Barnett (right), Electrical Supervisor, grilling burgers and hot dogs for the Edmarc tournament participants.
Greg Woodsmall, ERC CEO, speaks at the opening of the 20th Annual Edmarc Charity Golf Tournament.
ERC Focuses on Environmental Improvements
Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC) is committed to positively impacting the environment surrounding the Elizabeth River Tunnels (ERT) Project, both on land and in the river. Many of the project plans incorporated ecological efforts to ensure that not only were construction areas left unharmed, but that they were improved.
ERC teamed up with environmental experts to craft a long-term strategy for eco-friendly and sustainable additions to the Project. A large part of this effort was building up sustainable shorelines that included specific varieties of plants to protect the shore and restore them to a natural resilient state that is able to support indigenous wildlife. Oyster beds were also built to both encourage the oyster population and assist in restoring the Elizabeth River water quality since oysters are natural water filters.
Inland, the ERT Project is also working to protect the quality of the water table by building or overhauling stormwater collection ponds around local roadways. Strategic vegetation placement and growth help to slow the flow of water, filter out pollutants and improve water health before the drainage mixes with local systems. By slowing the flow of the storm water into our local streams and rivers, we are avoiding increased shore and bank erosion and helping to avoid overflow of systems – both of natural waterways and of city sewers. Another perk of the stormwater collection ponds is the creation of new habitats for wildlife.
Throughout the ERT Project, environmental protection and improvements have been a large focus for every department, and more eco-friendly and sustainable efforts are being planned to further increase the sustainability of the area. ERC’s Environmental Health Manager, Mike Burrows, is proud of the progress, “Seeing the environmental plan on paper come to fruition for the community is pretty amazing!”
Martin Luther King Freeway (MLK) Extension Nears Completion
With the concrete decks complete on the Martin Luther King (MLK) Freeway Extension, it’s now possible to walk from one end of the project to the other, from London Boulevard to Interstate 264. As the project nears completion, its positive impacts on Portsmouth’s aesthetics and mobility are more apparent. Completion is scheduled for the end of 2017.
Construction is wrapping up on one of two 40-foot-tall brick obelisks bearing the city seal at London Boulevard that will create a gateway to the downtown area of Portsmouth. Work has started on the second obelisk and decorative brick patterned panels are being mounted under the bridge at High Street and Queen Street.
With the bridge deck finished, work is now focused on slip forming barriers, expansion joints, deck grinding and grooving and remaining superstructure tasks. Overhead signs, sound walls and retention ponds are almost complete.
The elevated MLK Extension will provide a shorter, more direct route between the Midtown and Downtown tunnels. It will include changeable message signs to improve communication with motorists about traffic conditions at the tunnels allowing them to make commute decisions based on real-time information.
If you don’t have an E-ZPass yet, don’t wait any longer!
Order it online at EZPassVA.com, call 877-762-7824, or come in to the ERT Customer Service Center to get completely set up face to face.
Employee Spotlight: Jim Doerflinger
Jim Doerflinger is not only known around ERC as the resident IT wiz, but he holds another distinction as well. He’s the most nominated employee for ERC’s Employee of the Quarter, yet he has never won.
“You could say I’m the biggest loser,” Jim jokes.
He’s really a constant winner in the eyes of the team, though, always stepping up to assist with projects and volunteering for nearly every outreach or charitable event ERC sponsors. You can find him dropping off food at the HER Shelter, registering runners at 5K races, and manning booths at job fairs and career fairs. His favorite is distributing truckloads of food for the Foodbank to Portsmouth residents who are “always extremely appreciative.”
“Honestly anything for the community, I get involved in,” he said, explaining that his work schedule is more flexible due to the on-call nature of his role. But it really doesn’t have to be public. Jim also serves on event committees for internal and social events for employees.
He’s also been the face of ERC, volunteering as an extra in Drive ERT commercials and posing for internal posters demonstrating exercises for ERC’s Stretch and Flex program. Jim is also constantly keeping an eye on the tunnel’s technology needs.
Jim relocated to Virginia Beach from Northern Virginia to be one of ERC’s first employees more than four years ago.
About that quarterly recognition, a humble Jim said he “appreciates that it goes to other hard working individuals.” But one thing bothers him. The prize. An ERC laptop bag. “We only give out 4 per year and if there’s anybody who would really use one of them is an IT guy.”