Elizabeth River Tunnels: News and Updates
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Volume 2, Issue 1 | September 2013
Elizabeth River Tunnels: News and Updates

Connections features updates to construction, traffic, community impacts, and other issues to keep you informed on the progress of the Elizabeth River Tunnels Project. 

Tunnel Rehabilitation: Ceiling Gets Fireproofing Treatment

   Fireproofing board (Promat) now lines the ceiling of I-264 West Downtown Tunnel.

Crews have made significant strides working nights and weekends since August 9 to rehabilitate the I-264 West Downtown Tunnel into Portsmouth.
Their work to this point has mostly been on the tunnel ceiling, so drivers can now begin seeing progress. All of the rehabilitation work will extend the life of the 61-year-old tube, increase its energy efficiency, and make it safer for the thousands of drivers who rely on it daily to travel between Norfolk and Portsmouth.
After the tunnels were built, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) implemented more stringent fire and safety standards. The rehabilitation work incorporates many of the new code requirements and addresses compliance with the new NFPA standards.
Much of the current activity surrounds installing fireproofing board (Promat) on the tunnel ceilings, which will protect the tunnel structure from heat in the event of a fire. Fireproofing installation starts at the Norfolk entrance of the tunnel and moves west toward the Portsmouth side.
Current work also includes repairing damaged concrete on the ceilings and walls, and rerouting electrical lines from the walkway to overhead conduits to power new lighting and jet fans for ventilation.
Activities already completed include inspection of the roadway, inspection of air ducts, removal of police booths and handrails, laser mapping of the tunnel section to plan for placement of steel reinforcement for a new jet fan ventilation system, tile repair, and storm drain cleaning.
Features still to come include new high-efficiency LED lighting, cameras, and emergency communications systems; jet fans for ventilation; and relocation of fire alarms, extinguishers, and hydrants.
Full westbound closures, 8 p.m. Friday, through 5 a.m. Monday, are scheduled to continue through spring 2014. Full tunnel closures are scheduled most weekends with the exception of holiday and designated event weekends. The closures are necessary for the safety of both the workers and the motorists.
Single lane closures 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 westbound rehabilitation is complete, 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.

The Elizabeth River Ferry: Another Way to Reach Your Destination

Remember, there are alternatives to driving the tunnels during this period of weekend and weeknight closures.
One way to avoid the tunnels altogether is the Elizabeth River Ferry operated by Hampton Roads Transit, which makes the trip between downtown Norfolk and downtown Portsmouth every half hour.
For regulars, it’s an easy, stress-free commute.
Cathy Grieve, sales and marketing director for the Norfolk Waterside Marriott, generally hops the ferry to work after dropping her children at school in downtown Portsmouth. “I can sit there, do e-mail, talk on the phone, get work done, or just get my mind set instead of sitting in traffic,” she said.
While Grieve has a five to 10-minute walk on each end of her commute, she notes ferry commuters can ride the light rail to reach other parts of Norfolk.
Her ferry use is not restricted to weekdays. “Especially with what’s going on at the Downtown Tunnel, it’s easier to take the ferry over to come to festivals with my kids than to sit in traffic,” Grieve said.
For more Elizabeth River Ferry information, visit http://gohrt.com/services/ferry/

Employee Spotlight – Downtown Tunnel Safety Service Patrol Team

While there’s never a good time to have car trouble, a hot holiday weekend at the Downtown Tunnel just before rush hour is definitely not ideal.
But that’s exactly what happened to four young women whose rental car broke down the afternoon of July 5 before entering the tunnel. They were fortunate to have the help of Elizabeth River Crossings' (ERC) safety service patrol. ERC’s crew towed the car to the tunnel’s garage and provided the women a safe cool place to wait and a phone charger while they waited four to five hours for the rental company to respond.


  Safety services employees Marlinda Champagne and Cornelius Morgan.

A family member, Frances Craig of Suffolk, praised ERC in The Virginian-Pilot: “What might have been an ordeal was not, because of the folks at the tunnel who were wonderful.”
Ryan McLane, Operations Manager, said ERC strives to provide superior customer service. “We wouldn’t want them to sit on the side of the road that long - it was getting near rush hour and it was hot,” he said.
Safety service employees Roger Untalan, Marlinda Champagne, and Cornelius Morgan all pitched in to keep the women safe.


ERC Gives Back

Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC) continues to contribute to the communities surrounding the Elizabeth River Tunnels (ERT) Project.
Last month, ERC proudly served as the premier sponsor of the 17th Annual Edmarc Hospice for Children Annual Charity Golf Classic on August 8 at the Cypress Creek Golfers’ Club in Smithfield, Virginia. All proceeds are used to help ease the trauma of child illness or death and to reduce the disabling effects on Hampton Roads families who struggle to cope with illness, loss, and bereavement. The tournament brought in nearly $40,000 for Edmarc and the children they help.
For more information about Edmarc Hospice for Children, the services they provide and how you can help, visit http://www.edmarc.org/.

  ERC CEO Greg Woodsmall speaks at the 17th Annual Edmarc Hospice for Children Charity Golf Classic. 

ERC Marks One Year of Operations & Maintenance

July 12 marked the first year since operations and maintenance (O&M) responsibilities were assumed by Elizabeth River Crossings. To mark the occasion, the nearly 120-person team came together for lunch, prizes, and camaraderie to commemorate the hard work demonstrated by each employee.
O&M responsibilities include tunnel cleaning, lighting, sweeping, and clearing incidents, etc. to keep the tunnels operational for drivers. These activities were previously performed by ERC’s partner, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), and were handed over to ERC for 58 years as part of the Project contract.

Hundreds Attend Elizabeth River Tunnels Job Fair

Nearly 1,000 people turned out for the Elizabeth River Tunnels (ERT) Job Fair, held Sept. 5 at the Renaissance Hotel and Conference Center in Portsmouth. Attendees had the opportunity to speak to and in some cases, interview with several ERT contractor representatives looking to hire for the Project.
Representatives from SKW Constructors, 3M, Faneuil, Curtis Contracting, and more were at the event to share information on employment opportunities, including:  
  • IT Maintenance Technicians
  • System Administrators
  • Database Administrators
  • Customer Service Supervisors
  • Customer Service Representatives
  • Office Clerks
  • Equipment Operators
  • Laborers
  • Pile Drivers
  • Concrete Finishers
  • Welders
  • On-the-Job Training
For more information about working with Elizabeth River Crossings, visit www.DriveERT.com. For jobs with SKW Constructors and its subcontractors, contact Horrace Tobin at horrace.tobin@skanska.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). 

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