How we’re submersing 16,000-ton segments to create Virginia’s newest tunnel

Next week marks a major milestone for our Elizabeth River Tunnels public-private partnership project in Virginia, as the first of eleven roadway tunnel elements is being submersed into a trench carved in the river bottom. This 16,000-ton concrete element will be part of a new two-lane tube parallel to the existing Midtown Tunnel, with the expansion doubling the number of lanes to improve mobility in the Hampton Roads region. This is one of just several U.S. tunnels built in this manner, including most recently the Fort Point Channel Tunnel in Boston.

To reach this point, the SKW Constructors team – a joint venture of Skanska, Kiewit and Weeks Marine – in June floated six of the hollow concrete elements 220 miles from where they were cast near Baltimore, Md., to the project site in Portsmouth and Norfolk. See that process unfold in images, here.

Submersing these elements is amazing work requiring great precision. Yet, most of those complex activities will take place unseen beneath the Elizabeth River’s waters. To share what’s involved with this latest phase, we’ve outlined the process below.

Besides SKW, other key members of the Elizabeth River Tunnels team are the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Elizabeth River Crossings operating company and designer Parsons Brinckerhoff.


Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Tony Arce October 12, 2014, 7:30 pm

    Great undertaking by everyone involved.
    I won’t be a cake walk but nether was going to the moon
    I wish everyone the best and great success . Tony Arce


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