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


Travel Impacts

New I-264 West Downtown Tunnel Rehabilitation Schedule

The Elizabeth River Tunnels (ERT) Project team, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), has suspended daytime weekend closures of the Interstate 264 (I-264) West Downtown Tunnel following an updated rehabilitation schedule.
 
The I-264 West Downtown Tunnel nightly full closures begin in November and are scheduled to continue through summer 2014. The tunnel will close using the following schedule*:
  • Sunday – Thursday: 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Friday & Saturday: 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
 The I-264 West Downtown Tunnel will be open during the following weekends for 2013:
  • Veterans Day Weekend: work resumes Tuesday, November 12 at 8 p.m.
  • November 22 & 23: work resumes Sunday, November 24 at 8 p.m.
  • Thanksgiving Weekend: work resumes Monday, December 2 at 8 p.m.
  • December 20 – 31: complete tunnel closures suspended until January 2014.
 *On holiday weekends, the tunnel will remain open. Due to the nature of construction activities, dates and tunnel closure hours are subject to change.
 
Visit the Travel Impacts page on DriveERT.com for schedule updates.


Martin Luther King (MLK) Extension

On November 12 at 7 p.m., the Des Moines Ave. off-ramp on I-264 East will close permanently. 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, the right travel lane and shoulder on I-264 East between Portsmouth Blvd. and just east of Des Moines Ave. will close while construction begins on the south side of the interstate.


Construction Milestones

Tunnel Fabrication 

Elizabeth River Tunnels Project tunnel element fabrication continues at Sparrows Point, MD. Concrete work on tunnel Elements 1 and 2 is complete and crews are now outfitting each element with bulkheads, hardware, and ballast tanks.


Ballast tanks are temporary tanks constructed inside each completed tunnel element. The tanks will be filled with water to provide the proper amount of buoyancy and stability to allow tunnel elements to be towed to the project location and be immersed during placement. Once the element is placed in the trench at the bottom of the Elizabeth River, water will be pumped out of the tanks. Four ballast tanks will be built in each tunnel element.
 
Production of Elements 3 through 6 continues into the late fall. In spring 2014, the first 6 of 11 tunnel elements will be towed down the Chesapeake Bay to the construction site in Portsmouth, Virginia to begin installation. 


Norfolk Approach

The Project team has made significant progress on the Norfolk approach. 
 
Crews finished driving test piles for the “cut and cover” and “boat section” and are now driving sheet piles to create a Support of Excavation (SOE) wall at the site. 
“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.” Storm drainage installation and utility relocation continues to move forward while bulkhead installation and permanent concrete pile driving begins early next month.

Portsmouth Approach

Work on the Portsmouth approach has been very active this month as crews finished most of the temporary SOE work and trial casting of the “cut and cover” section.
 
A trial casting is a concrete mock-up of the “cut and cover” section, where the Project team tests construction methods before building the permanent structure. 
 
With temporary work complete, crews are now able to focus on permanent work. The Project team completed excavation inside the SOE wall closest to the river’s edge this month and will begin pouring concrete over the permanently placed concrete piles to form a “plug.” The “plug” is the first layer of concrete to go down under the final roadway.
 
Other upcoming work includes excavation inside the SOE wall near the boat section and the continued placement of surcharge prior to concrete work.


Marine Work

The marine portion of the new Midtown Tunnel construction continues with pile driving and dredging. 
 
Crews began driving raker piles earlier this month, which are driven at an angle adjacent to existing sheet piles. The raker piles will fortify the support of excavation (SOE) wall during the dredging process. 


Mass dredging in preparation for tunnel element placement will begin in early November. The first part of the process includes uncovering and removal of the old 30-inch water main from the bottom of the Elizabeth River. 


Martin Luther King (MLK) Extension

The Project team will begin construction activities on the MLK Extension in November. Scheduled work includes widening of roadways and bridges on Interstate 264 (I-264), replacement of the pedestrian bridge over I-264, extension of the MLK Freeway from London Blvd. to I-264 with an interchange at High St., and aesthetic treatments from Turnpike Rd. to London Blvd. This work will be performed through a series of lane closures along with temporary and permanent I-264 ramp closures.
 
The Project team continues right of way acquisition and demolition of structures along the alignment in addition to utility relocation in preparation for bridge and roadway construction. Crews also replaced a section of century-old waterline with a new 20-inch waterline.
 
On November 12 at 7 p.m., the Des Moines Ave. off-ramp on I-264 East will close permanently. 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.

 

MLK Open House in November

The Elizabeth River Tunnels Project team will share design concepts and information relating to the construction of the Martin Luther King (MLK) Freeway Extension at an open house on Thursday, November 14, in Portsmouth, VA.
 
The open house is free to the public and takes place Thursday, Nov. 14, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Calvary Baptist Church, 2117 London Blvd., Portsmouth.
 
Engineers from Elizabeth River Crossings and SKW Constructors as well as representatives from VDOT will be on site to answer questions.



Connect With Us

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