Elizabeth River Tunnels Project Monthly Update
Work is progressing in a variety of areas to build the Elizabeth River Tunnels (ERT) Project. Here’s a look at some of the highlights.
Martin Luther King (MLK) Extension
Norfolk and Portsmouth Belt Line Railroad
Crews have relocated utilities from overhead power lines to underground conduits near the Norfolk and Portsmouth Belt Line Railroad. This allows the I-264 bridge to be widened for new on- and off-ramps from the extended MLK Expressway.
In May, right-of-way (ROW) acquisition continued, and two more properties were obtained. Approximately 50 percent of the needed properties have been acquired to date.
Over 1,000 feet of a new 20-inch water main was installed this month. The pressure testing and final Health Department clearance will be obtained early next month. The existing 20-inch water main had to be relocated to make way for construction of a new eastbound I-264 access ramp onto US 58 east.
Installation of the temporary overheight vehicle road has begun. Realigning the existing roadway allows tunnel excavation at the boat section to move forward.
Crews have also begun installing sheet piling for the Portsmouth approach. This prevents soil movement during excavation using a system of driven steel beams.
Installation of pre-stressed concrete piles began for the Portsmouth approach. The piles will act as anchors to overcome buoyant forces in the tunnel boat section approach.
Downtown Tunnel westbound
During the month of May, workers began locating, measuring, and labeling cracks and concrete spalls in the westbound Downtown Tunnel. The work is being performed in preparation for the rehabilitation activities which are set to begin in August.
Timber Pile Removal
The removal of timber piles on the Portsmouth side of the Elizabeth River is under way. The timber piles are remnants of old piers along the Elizabeth River which had been abandoned and buried by fill as the Portsmouth Marine Terminal was built. This work is necessary for the dredging operations to proceed.
As the timber pile removal and dredging are performed, the river is being protected by a silt curtain that was installed around the work area.
Elizabeth River Tunnels in the News
In response to the May 21, 2013 Portsmouth Circuit Court ruling, Elizabeth River Crossings issued the following statement:
“Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC) will continue working with our partners at the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) toward an appeal of the Portsmouth Circuit Court ruling and final order handed down today. In the meantime, ERC remains committed to delivering the Project consistent with our agreement with VDOT and the Commonwealth of Virginia in accordance with the terms of the circuit court order."
Elizabeth River Tunnels Project Video
Earth Day at Pinner's Point
In honor of Earth Day, and in an ongoing effort to improve the environment, ERC staff opted to celebrate by constructing a wildlife habitat behind the Pinner’s Point office building.
Once just grass, the area is now a sanctuary for butterflies and colorful vegetation, and also serves as a certified National Wildlife Habitat, recognized by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). NWF celebrates the efforts of those who create garden spaces that improve habitat for birds, butterflies, frogs, and other wildlife by providing essential elements needed by all wildlife – natural food sources, clean water, cover, and places to raise young.
This newly certified habitat joins NWF’s roll of more than 150,000 certified habitats nationwide. Wildlife habitats are important to year-round wildlife residents as well as species that migrate, such as some birds and butterflies. For more information, visit www.nwf.org/habitat.
Not to be outdone, ERC’s design-build contractor, SKW Constructors also held its first ever Earth Day Celebration.
SKW and ERC employees designated a few hours on Monday, April 22, to help clean up the Project site and collected a 30-yard dumpster of debris and trash surrounding the Elizabeth River. Teams competed to see who could gather the most debris, and the winners collected enough to fill three pickup trucks and four excavator buckets.
ERC and SKW remain committed to improving the environment surrounding the Elizabeth River Tunnels Project through annual participation of Earth Day efforts and activities.
Elizabeth River Crossings Goes Orange
During National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) in April, the ERC team participated in safety events and wore orange to embrace this year’s slogan, "Work Zone Safety: We're All In This Together."
Formed jointly by the Federal Highway Association (HWA), American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) and American Association of State Highway Transportation (AASHTO) in 1999, the annual spring event aims to spread safety awareness to workers and motorists during construction season. National Work Zone Awareness Week is observed by almost every state transportation agency in the nation.
Throughout the week, ERC employees and crews, in partnership with VDOT employees, helped spread the word through diligently engaging in safe work practices, daily safety tips via Twitter, and the distribution of educational materials during Tool Box Safety Talks at the Project site.
“National Work Zone Awareness Week is essential for safety for all personnel locally and nationally,” said Cliff Motley, QEHS Manager for ERC. “We consciously practice safety on a daily basis and I personally encourage everyone to participate next year.”
Next year’s event will take place April 7-11.
Employee Spotlight: Victor Kisseadoo
Victor Kisseadoo, a Hampton local, Hampton High School graduate and Old Dominion University Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate, joined the ERC family in March as an Associate Project Engineer for the Elizabeth River Tunnels Project. His role primarily supports construction related to the Midtown Tunnel and Martin Luther King (MLK) Extension portion of the Project.
Splitting his time between the office and the various Project sites, Kisseadoo spends each day a little differently. One of his main duties includes touring Project sites to observe construction activities and to report activities to senior management.
But for him, the best part of the job is about learning something new every day.
“There are so many facets to the Project and each of them presents a great learning opportunity,” he said. “I’m very excited about the Project because someday, I will be able to say that I was part of the team that helped build the new tunnel for the area I grew up in.”
Construction and Maintenance Activities That May Impact Your Commute
Traffic loop sensor installation will continue at the end of May until early June and is scheduled this weekend:
May 31, at 9 p.m., through Monday, June 3, at 5 a.m., I-264 east will be reduced to one lane at the Effingham Street ramp for approximately 150 yards. All lanes of the Downtown Tunnel will remain open.
Installation of traffic loop sensors on I-264 west will take place the weekend beginning Friday, June 14. Additional traffic advisories detailing this work, including anticipated traffic impacts, will be issued as the date draws nearer.
You can get the most current construction travel impacts for the Project at
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).
Follow ERT on Twitter @DriveERT for the latest news and traffic impact information.