She's Big. She's Bold. SHE HAS A NAME!
VDOT Announces the Name of the HRBT Expansion Project Tunnel Boring Machine.
NORFOLK, VA – The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) announced the top three finalists and the winning name selected for the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) at a virtual ceremony on Feb. 24, 2021. (Click here to view the event).
In collaboration with the Hampton Roads Connector Partners (HRCP), VDOT held a contest to formally name the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) that will be used to construct the new twin two-lane bored tunnels west of the existing tunnels. The contest was launched in October and opened to all middle school students in Hampton Roads.
Student entries included posters, brochures, essays, and videos. Entries were judged on the name submitted and relevance to the project and community, as well as the creativity and presentation of the submission.
First Place was awarded to students from Saint Gregory the Great Catholic School – Team Sancti Potentes in Virginia Beach. The student team submitted a video in the style of a newscast featuring the TBM. The team presented the name “Mary” for Mary Jackson – mathematician and aerospace engineer at NASA, noted for her pioneering role of an African American woman in the field of science and engineering, and her crucial contributions to the NASA Space Program. Additionally, Mary Jackson was from Hampton, Virginia, which the students pointed out as one of their reasons for selecting Mary as the name for the HRBT Expansion Project TBM.
Second Place was awarded to students from Crittenden Middle School in Newport News who submitted the name “Mary” as a brochure entry.
Third Place was awarded to students from Hunter B. Andrews PreK-8 in Hampton who submitted the name “TEO” for The Emancipation Oak as a brochure entry.
The Tunnel Boring Machine is being manufactured in Germany and will be used to excavate and construct the tunnels for the expansion project. The TBM has a 46-foot diameter cutter head that will excavate through soil under the James River, while concrete liners are set in place. The TBM will be a key component in the HRBT Expansion Project - the largest infrastructure project in Virginia history.
According to Jim Utterback, VDOT Project Director, “Our team received so many excellent entries, and we are impressed with the students understanding of the project and the creativity of their submissions.”
Hampton Roads Connectors Partners Project Executive Jose Martin Alos added, “It’s wonderful to involve students in our vision and gain their participation. We hope to encourage those in the STEM curriculum to pursue their career goals.”
Traditionally, a TBM is named before it begins any work as a sign of good luck for the project ahead. TBMs have been historically named after a woman, because tunnellers looked to Saint Barbara, the patron saint for military engineers and miners, for protection.
The winning team and finalists were honored through a virtual announcement ceremony on February 24, 2021. The ceremony was live streamed on the project website www.hrbtexpansion.org. The presentation of awards included remarks from the HRBT Expansion Team, as well as the winning student team.
Second and third place finalists received certificates and recognition for their participation in the contest.
First place award winners received certificates and will be featured in the HRBT Expansion Magazine. They also have the honor of having the winning name “Mary” prominently displayed on the TBM.
HRBT Expansion Project Featured on WAVY TV 10
Virginia Launches Largest Infrastructure Project in Commonwealth’s History
HAMPTON—Governor Ralph Northam joined the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and state and local leaders to break ground on the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) Expansion Project today. The $3.8 billion project will increase tunnel and interstate capacity along 9.9 miles of Interstate 64 between Hampton and Norfolk, reducing congestion and easing access to the Port of Virginia and the world’s largest Naval base.
“For too long, traffic in the Hampton Roads region has bottlenecked at the tunnel,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “Folks in this region deserve an easier, more reliable commute. This is the largest project in our history, and it will ensure that people can move around faster, that commerce flows more easily, and that we finally connect the Peninsula and the Southside. This project will make everyone’s lives easier when it is completed.”
“The world’s best designers, builders, engineers, and technology are converging here in Virginia to build your new tunnel,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “We are bringing every asset to the table to give people what they may value most—time.”
Virginia crews will use a highly-specialized tunnel boring machine to dig through soil and construct tunnel segments simultaneously. The advanced technology is used in the construction of highly complex projects such as Manhattan’s Second Avenue Subway. The new HRBT is only the fourth roadway project to use this equipment in the United States. The machinery is under construction in Germany and is expected to arrive in Hampton Roads in 2021 for assembly, which will take several months. It is expected to begin tunneling operations in early 2022.
“VDOT is using this advanced boring technology for the first time ever,” said VDOT Commissioner Stephen Brich. “We’re doing it because this is one of the nation’s most important maritime channels, and this technology means less disruption to military and commercial activity, and less impact on marine life.”
The project has received support from the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission (HRTAC), federal, and local partners. Design-build contractor Hampton Roads Connector Partners (HRCP) received Notice to Proceed for full construction activities in September. The project is expected to be completed in November 2025.
“The HRBT expansion project is a great example of how the legislature, VDOT, and HRTAC are working together to achieve a greater vision for transportation in Hampton Roads and provide solutions to bring the region out of gridlock,” said Kevin Page, HRTAC Executive Director.
A Project Administration and Funding Agreement with HRTAC first announced in April 2019 (click here to view event highlights) commits 92 percent of locally-sourced funding for the expansion. Additional financing includes $200 million from the Commonwealth’s SMART SCALE program and $108 million from VDOT.
In addition to alleviating congestion for motorists, the completed project will benefit tourism, the Port of Virginia, and the military—three critical industries in Hampton Roads. The expansion is projected to bolster the economic competitiveness of in Hampton Roads with more than $4.6 billion in investments and an estimated 28,000 new jobs over the life of the project.
The Commonwealth has worked to maximize the participation of Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) and Small, Women-owned, and Minority-owned (SWaM) businesses across the Commonwealth on the performance of contracts for this historic project. More than 160 DBE and SWaM agreements have been executed so far as part of the project, representing more than $87 million in contract awards.
The HRBT Expansion Project will add twin, two-lane bored tunnels and widen the four-lane segments of Interstate 64 in Hampton between Settlers Landing Road and the Phoebus shoreline, and in Norfolk between the Willoughby shoreline and the I-564 interchange. More than 100,000 vehicles currently use this facility during peak travel periods.
State and regional leaders including Secretary of Transportation Valentine, VDOT Commissioner Stephen Brich, Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck, Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Alexander, Suffolk Mayor and HRTAC Chair Linda Johnson, and representatives from VDOT, HRTAC, and HRCP attended the social-distanced groundbreaking event with Governor Northam. Video of the groundbreaking ceremony is available here.
Office of the Governor, Commonwealth of Virginia | P.O. Box 1475, Richmond, VA 23218
HRBT Expansion Project Stakeholders Committee Meeting
On August 27, Project Director Jim Utterback led the third quarterly HRBT Expansion Project Stakeholders Committee (Virtual) Meeting. At this briefing, HRCP Project Executive José Martin Alos provided an update on current construction operations as well as projections for upcoming work this fall. Committee members also received updates on recent state and federal permits issued for the project; the success of the DBE/SWaM outreach and engagement activities with a goal of more than $300 million in awards throughout the project; and highlights on the upcoming TBM naming contest for middle school students in Hampton Roads.
Click HERE to view presentation.