TUNNEL BORING MACHINE ARRIVES FOR HAMPTON ROADS BRIDGE-TUNNEL EXPANSION PROJECT
Tunneling scheduled to begin in mid-2022 after Mary is reassembled
NORFOLK, VA (December 14, 2021) – A Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) Expansion Project milestone, the arrival of the Tunnel Boring Machine, or TBM, was celebrated today at the Port of Virginia. Named “Mary” after Mary Winston Jackson by Hampton Roads middle school students, this highly specialized piece of equipment is designed to dig through the soft soils at the HRBT to construct the new twin tunnels.
Manufactured in Germany, Mary was completed and passed a factory acceptance test in May 2021 before being disassembled into 170 components for shipment to the U.S. on three shipping vessels. When fully reassembled in mid-2022, Mary will be 46 feet tall, more than 430 feet in length and weigh over 4,700 tons or 9 million pounds. For perspective, the TBM is the weight of ten fully loaded Boeing 747s. “Today, we welcome "Mary the TBM," the most advanced boring technology in the world, to the Commonwealth of Virginia, said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. "We remain committed to bringing every asset to the table to give the people in this region what they value most -- time."
PICTURED ABOVE: State, regional and project officials, along with students from St. Gregory the Great, unveil a model of Mary the TBM.
As the first bored tunnel project to be constructed by VDOT, Mary represents the centerpiece of the HRBT Expansion Project. The TBM will take about a year to finish boring from its starting point on the South Island, moving towards the North Island at the rate of up to 50 feet per day. Upon reaching the North Island, it will take four months to turn the machine around before she spends another year digging a parallel tunnel back to the South Island. Each tunnel will be about 8,000 feet long, and the deepest segments will be about 150 feet below the water’s surface. The new tunnels will be about 50 feet deeper than the existing tunnels.
“Today’s arrival of Mary is a major milestone in this generational project, the expansion of the HRBT,” said VDOT Commissioner Stephen Brich. “Today, we are closer than ever to offering increased options, capacity and reliability for our region, and with the latest tunneling technology, Mary will have little impact to the environment and to the waterway’s Navy, marine and commercial boat traffic while she’s drilling.”
The $3.8 billion project will increase tunnel and interstate capacity along 10 miles of Interstate 64 between the cities of Hampton and Norfolk. The tunnel boring machine features a unique design honoring the region and the collective partnership to ensure this historic project became a reality. The Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission (HRTAC) is contributing 92 percent of the $3.8 billion HRBT project costs.
“The colors on the face of the TBM cutter head are reflective of the unprecedented regional collaboration that made this project possible,” said HRTAC Executive Director Kevin Page. “A creative representation of the Hampton Roads regional flag, the blue represents the maritime aspects of the region, while the green signifies the land-based agriculture and industry. The 14 stars represent each of the HRTAC member cities and counties.”
PICTURED ABOVE: The segments of Mary the TBM have arrived in Hampton Roads and will be reassembled over the next six months.
It is tradition to give a TBM a female name before it starts boring to bring good luck to the project. The HRBT Expansion Project held a naming contest in the fall of 2020. The contest was open to middle school students in Hampton Roads. First place winner was Saint Gregory the Great Catholic High School in Virginia Beach. They chose the name “Mary the TBM” in honor of Mary Winston Jackson of Hampton, VA – mathematician and aerospace engineer at NASA, noted for her pioneering role as an African American woman in the field of science and engineering, and her crucial contributions to the NASA Space Program.
In addition to alleviating congestion for motorists, the completed project will benefit multiple critical industries in the Hampton Roads region: tourism, the ports and the military. The project is expected to create 28,000 jobs and generate $4.6 billion in economic impact. The construction also supports Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) and Small, Women-owned, and Minority-owned (SWaM) businesses across the commonwealth. To date, more than 277 DBE and SWaM agreements have been executed as part of the project, representing more than $384 million in contract awards.
Dignitaries and representatives from the Commonwealth of Virginia, VDOT, Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission, the Port of Virginia and Hampton Roads Connector Partners were on site for today’s ceremony.
The HRBT Expansion features twin, two-lane bored tunnels and the widening of four-lane segments along I-64 in Hampton and Norfolk. For more details, visit HRBTExpansion.org.
Enjoy the TBM Arrival Ceremony presented by Tuesday, December 14, 2021
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