Elizabeth River Tunnels: News and Updates
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October 2014
Elizabeth River Tunnels Project Monthly Update

Travel Impacts

I-264 Downtown Tunnel Rehabilitation

For the Downtown Tunnel westbound to Portsmouth closure schedule, please visit the Travel Impacts page.

The Downtown Tunnel eastbound to Norfolk closure schedule is as follows:
  • Full direction closures:
    • Oct. 31-Nov. 3: Closed Friday at 8 p.m. until Monday at 5 a.m.
    • Nov. 7-10: No scheduled closures.
    • Nov. 14-17: No scheduled closures.
  • Single lane closures: Nightly Monday through Thursday, Nov. 3-6 from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. the next morning. 
Visit the Travel Impacts page for more information.

Construction Milestones

Midtown Tunnel Fabrication

Crews placed and fully lowered the first tunnel element of the new Midtown Tunnel on the Portsmouth side this month.

Construction of the new Midtown Tunnel continues on schedule at the Project site in Portsmouth. At Sparrows Point, fabrication of tunnel elements 7-11 is currently just over 50 percent complete. Crews have completed the structural concrete placement for Elements 10 and 11, and are now outfitting the internal ballast tanks, drainage pipes and bulkheads. Float out of the second litter of elements from Sparrows Point down to the Project site in Portsmouth is scheduled for early next spring.
This month, Element 1 was moved from its moored location at the Portsmouth Marine Terminal and positioned inside of the newly constructed tunnel slot. Earlier this week, the element was fully lowered into place and connected to the Portsmouth side. Inside outfitting of Element 1 is now in progress with preparations underway for placement of the next tunnel element. The element placement process takes almost 30 hours from beginning to end. Elements 2-6, currently moored at the Portsmouth Marine Terminal, will be placed one at a time at approximately five week intervals through late 2015.
Learn more about the construction of the new tunnel on our Midtown Tunnel page. View Element 1 placement photos and time-lapse videos on the Project’s Flickr and YouTube pages.

Norfolk and Portsmouth Approaches

A view at the mouth of the Portsmouth boat section.

At the Norfolk Approach, crews continue concrete placement within the cut-and-cover section and have expanded the surcharge area in the the open, U-shaped section of concrete before the cut-and-cover, also known as the boat section. “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. Surcharging involves preloading an area with soil in order to compress it and eliminate post-construction settlement of the soil below, allowing for a more level roadway at the tunnel entrance.
At the Portsmouth approach, concrete placement for the cut-and-cover section is complete. Crews are currently removing the concrete formwork and support structures to allow access into the elements as they are placed in the slot and the bulkheads are removed. Bulkheads are the waterproof barriers found at the end of each tunnel element as well as the cut-and-cover section. All 11 elements are outfitted with bulkheads at each end for buoyancy, allowing them to be floated into place. Once the element is placed, the bulkheads are removed to allow crews access inside each element. The final invert for the boat section, or tunnel mouth, was poured and approximately 20 more wall sections remain before the boat section is complete.

Marine Work

Backfill operations within the slot between the existing Midtown Tunnel and the Virginia Port Authority property on the Portsmouth side are complete for the placement of Elements 1-3. The screed sled, which sits on top of the new tunnel slot walls is successfully being used to level the base foundation on the bottom of the Elizabeth River to the precise specifications needed for tunnel element placement. 

I-264 Downtown Tunnel Rehabilitation

Crews are busy testing the new 16-jet fan ventilation system during full nighttime tunnel closures of the I-264 West Downtown Tunnel. The installation of the new fire alarm system is complete and is also undergoing testing. New reversible lane signals and dynamic message boards are being installed over the roadway, which are wired to the new traffic management system. This new system will undergo final testing before decommissioning the existing system.
Rehabilitation of the I-264 East Downtown Tunnel continues this month with the complete removal of tunnel ceiling panels and inspection booths. Crews have now turned their focus to conduit installation and concrete barrier repairs. Additionally, ceiling repair work is ongoing in preparation for Promat fireproofing.
For more information about tunnel rehabilitation, including current closures and answers to frequently asked questions, visit the Rehabilitation page.

Martin Luther King (MLK) Extension

Piers for the elevated roadway go up along the future mainline of the new MLK Extension.

The Martin Luther King (MLK) Extension project is an interchange system consisting of six bridges, two bridge widenings, 10 ramps, and miles of roadway which will provide a direct connection for motorists to the Downtown and Midtown tunnels. Work on the MLK Extension is currently focused in three areas in Portsmouth—the I-264 interchange, Harbor Drive, and the London Boulevard interchange.

I-264 interchange:
Pile driving continues as part of construction for the new flyover. Substructure work is complete for the pedestrian bridge replacement over I-264. The bridge structure has arrived on site and is expected to be installed later this fall. Construction is also advancing on the interchange ramp tie-ins west of Frederick Boulevard with earthwork construction, lighting, and drainage installation. All piles have been driven for the first eight piers of the main elevated roadway.
Harbor Drive alignment:
Now that the London Boulevard South ramp is reopened to motorists in Portsmouth, the remainder of Harbor Drive from London Boulevard to High Street is permanently closed to construct the new raised MLK Extension. Test piles have been driven in the closed section of Harbor Drive. Test piles are used to verify the foundation design.
London Boulevard interchange:
Earlier this month, the MLK Freeway to London Boulevard South ramp was reopened to the public. A temporary ramp from London Boulevard South to MLK North is under construction. The temporary ramp is needed to allow construction of the mainline abutment and approach.
To accommodate construction and future traffic on the MLK Extension, several ramps and roads have been permanently or temporarily closed.
Permanent closures include:
  • I-264 East Des Moines Avenue off-ramp
  • I-264 West South Street on-ramp
  • Harbor Drive
Temporary closures include:
  • I-264 East Frederick Boulevard off-ramp
  • Portions of Trexler Avenue, King Street, County Street and Meander Road
  • One lane on either side of I-264 near Frederick Boulevard has been closed for construction
  • Intermittent closures of Turnpike Road between Confederate and Constitution Avenues
Motorists are advised to follow the signed detours in the City of Portsmouth to navigate around the closures.
Nearly 100 percent of the MLK work is being performed by DBE/SWaM businesses. Construction continues through December 2016.
Learn more on the MLK Page of 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). 

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