Elizabeth River Crossing: News and Updates

February 2013
Elizabeth River Tunnels Project Monthly Update

The Elizabeth River Tunnels Project is Officially Underway

Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC) and its partner Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) celebrated the launch of the Elizabeth River Tunnels Project January 10 with community members, business owners, and dignitaries along the Portsmouth waterfront.

The kick-off event ushered in the beginning of construction of the $2.1 billion Project that will deliver much needed transportation improvements, and showcased the positive economic impacts - especially for small, disadvantaged and women-owned businesses - in the Hampton Roads area.
The speakers highlighted the Project’s economic benefits to local and surrounding businesses by creating jobs and stimulating the economy.
“Already, 150 contracts valued at more than $21 million have been awarded to Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) and Small, Women-owned and Minority-owned (SWaM) firms,” said Transportation Secretary Sean T. Connaughton, the Master of Ceremonies for the event. “In total, the Project will procure $345 million worth of contracts for small, women and minority businesses in the region over the next four years. While the short-term benefits bring jobs, the long-term benefits will greatly improve safety, connectivity, and the overall transportation network in the region.”
The owners of three of the local businesses expressed excitement about their contracts and the opportunity to put more people to work.
Susan Ritter, president of Bryant-Ritter Hewitt Electric Corp., said that as a result of the ERC work her company increased staff by 15 percent and anticipates growing another 20 to 30 percent. “We’ve rehired electricians previously laid off due to lack of work,” Ritter said.
Devon Henry, co-owner of Team Henry Enterprises, noted the Project has not only provided work for his company, but he’s also subcontracted jobs to other small businesses. “It is truly an honor to say, and my kids and grandkids to be able to say, that their family had an opportunity to work on this Project,” Henry said.
Dianne Guy, president of Precision Measurements Inc., said, “It’s helped to keep my head above water. It’s helped me to keep my workforce in place and keep our people busy.”
Overall, the Project includes more than $1 billion of construction works to be built by local companies, more than 500 Project-direct jobs, and more than 1,000 indirect jobs in the community with related industries and suppliers. It also creates about 200 permanent facilities, maintenance, and operations jobs.
Other event speakers included Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez, VDOT Commissioner Greg Whirley and ERC CEO Greg Woodsmall. 
"By both creating jobs and improving access to jobs through better connectivity, the Project supports economic growth," Mendez said.
Together, ERC, transportation leaders, and business owners look forward to providing more Project benefits and creating additional jobs for the community.

Left to right: Rodney Oliver, VPA Executive Director; Susan Ritter, President of Bryant-Ritter Hewitt Electronic Corp.; Dennis Heuer, VDOT District Administrator; Dianne Guy,  President of Precision Measurements, Inc.; Greg Woodsmall, ERC CEO; Peter Guthorn, SKW Operations Manager; Sean Connaughton, Secretary of Transportation; Victor Mendez, FHWA Administrator; Greg Whirley, VDOT Transportation Commissioner; Devon Henry, Co-owner of Team Henry Enterprises; Frank Fabian, VDOT Senior Project Manager and Hollis Ellis, CTB Member.  

Construction Corner – New Waterline Coming Soon

The activity you see now around the Midtown Tunnel is utility and site work in preparation for construction of the new tunnel and approaches.

Last December, steel casing for a new 36-inch water line under the Elizabeth River was installed by Mears, a subcontractor to joint venture Skanska-Kiewit-Weeks Marine (SKW Constructors), the design-build partner to the Elizabeth River Tunnels Project. The steel casing provides a means to ‘thread’ the new water line through the loose soils at the surface into the dense soils below the river. Approximately 250 feet of casing was installed on the Portsmouth side (that’s almost as long as a standard football field) and about 80 feet was installed on the Norfolk side. The work was done without closing any traffic lanes.

In January a 9-inch directional hole was successfully bored under the Elizabeth River.  This month, crews will continue to enlarge the hole under the river to enable the approximately 4,200-foot long, 36-inch diameter water main to be pulled across the river in one continuous string. The final connections are expected to be complete in late March or early April 2013. The new waterline will replace the existing 30-inch main. 

Meanwhile, near the Hampton Boulevard/Brambleton Avenue interchange in Norfolk, TA Sheets, a subcontractor to Mears, completed clearing shrubs, trees, roots and other vegetation to make way for the work zone. The company also installed required construction entrances. Elizabeth River Crossings is working closely with its contractors to maintain traffic flow, as well as safe movement of crews around all work areas.

Crews use a horizontal directional drill on the Norfolk side of the Elizabeth River to perform the waterline relocation work.

Contractor Spotlight, Devon Henry

The Elizabeth River Tunnels Project is dedicated to bringing economic benefits to the area – and Devon Henry, President of Team Henry Enterprises, an environmental contracting firm, couldn’t be more pleased.
“I would like to commend the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC), Skanska-Kiewit-Weeks Marine (SKW), and specifically the folks at the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT ) for working closely to make sure there is inclusion for small businesses and the small business community locally,” said Henry at the January 10 Project Kick-off event.
Team Henry Enterprises is one of many Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE)/Small, Women-owned and Minority-owned (SWaM) companies contracted to the Project.
A young entrepreneur, Henry prides his company on quality work. “I told my team that we have this opportunity—so don’t mess it up!” Joking aside, Henry further explained the importance of his company performing superior services and how a job well done has opened the door for even more work.
It’s no wonder that Team Henry was recently recognized as an Inner City 100 firm, ranked 65 on the list of fastest growing companies located in America’s inner cities. Team Henry was also honored with the 2008 Construction Quality Award by the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance.
“I am very excited and appreciative of this opportunity and I am honored to be a part of this team,” Henry said.
For information about becoming a DBE or SWaM vendor, visit http://dmbe.virginia.gov.

Devon Henry speaks at the Jan. 10 Kick-off event.

Safe Driving Tips 

We’ve seen snow, rain, and some extremely cold temperatures this season. Stay safe and if you must travel in icy conditions, follow these guidelines:
  • Allow extra time to reach your destination.
  • Make sure your defroster is working.
  • Keep lights and windshield clean.
  • Turn on your headlights.
  • Slow down! Leave plenty of room to stop. The rule of thumb is to allow three times more space than usual.
  • If you have to brake, do so gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock, ease off the brake.
  • Do NOT use cruise control.
  • Remember that bridges freeze before roadways, so approach with caution.
  • Don’t try to pass snow plows or sanding vehicles.
If you skid …
  • Take your foot off the accelerator.
  • Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go.
  • If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
  • If you have anti-lock brakes, apply steady pressure; if rear brakes “shudder”, don’t worry—it is normal.
Are you stuck?
  • Don’t spin the wheels—this just digs you in deeper.
  • Turn steering wheel side-to-side to push snow out of the way.
  • Lightly apply gas to ease vehicle out.
  • Still stuck? Clear away any snow you can from the front of your tires, then try rocking the vehicle (forward – reverse – forward, etc.).
  • STAY with your vehicle, call for help, and/or wait for help to arrive.

A Look Ahead at Construction and Maintenance Work for the Downtown and Midtown Tunnels

Beginning February 18 and continuing throughout the month, various lane and shoulder closures will take place on I-264, US 58, and Route 164 for roadway and shoulder sweeping.

Weather permitting, the following work is also scheduled:
  • Sweeping will create moving lane closures in all of the tunnels Sunday, February 17, from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.
  • Replacing lights in all three tunnels will occur overnight, Sunday through Wednesday, for two weeks starting February 10. Work hours are 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Drivers can expect lane closures. 

Elizabeth River Trail Reroute Begins

The alternate Elizabeth River Trail route opens to bicyclists and pedestrians Monday, February 18. The same day, the existing path from just southwest of Olney Road to south of Plum Point Park closes. Portions of the trail will be rerouted until Project completion in 2016. Rerouting the trail is necessary for crews to safely build the new Midtown Tunnel. For more information and to see a map of the new route, visit www. DriveERT.com.

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).