Six months ahead of schedule, the Elizabeth River Tunnels (ERT) Project opened one lane of its new Midtown Tunnel to traffic on Friday, June 17, marking the first time the public could use the new passage under the Elizabeth River connecting Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia.
In a show of pride, Skanska employees, along with our JV partners from Kiewit Construction and Weeks Marine, Inc., walked through the nearly one mile length of the tunnel in the morning, surveying the fruits of their hard work. In the afternoon, cars queued up on the westbound side and at 1:40 p.m. proceeded through, signifying the tunnel had officially gone into operation.
To execute the opening, crews shifted the single lane of U.S. 58 West Midtown Tunnel traffic, which carries traffic from Norfolk to Portsmouth, into the new Midtown Tunnel. The existing Midtown Tunnel will continue to carry eastbound traffic in a single lane from Portsmouth to Norfolk. The single lane configuration in each tube makes it possible to conduct rehabilitation of the existing Midtown Tunnel ahead of schedule and finish construction in the new tube. In order to advance completion of both Midtown tunnels, construction will continue in one lane of each tube.
“This is a terrific day for this project and I couldn’t be more proud of our team,” said Wade Watson, ERT Project Director for SKW. “Four years ago when the project began, the team set an aggressive schedule. Opening six months early speaks to quality of team, attitude, planning and efforts to make this come together. More than 50,000 man hours of training and more than 4.4 million man hours of work went into this.”
The $1.5 billion project is Skanska’s first major infrastructure public-private partnership (P3).
The project is divided into four sections:
• Construction of a brand new, two-lane tunnel under the Elizabeth River, adjacent to the existing Midtown Tunnel
• Extending the MLK from London Boulevard to Interstate 264 with an interchange at High Street
• Minor modifications to the interchange at Brambleton Avenue/Hampton Boulevard in Norfolk
• Maintenance and safety improvements to the existing Midtown & Downtown Tunnels
The project is remarkable from a technological perspective, being only the second all-concrete immersed tube tunnel in the United States and the first deep water all concrete immersed tube tunnel. Historically, tunnels in the US have been built with steel.
Drivers will benefit from reduced emissions and congestion and shave as much as 30 minutes a day off the average round trip commute. Full completion on the project is expected in August 2018.
Click here for more on how this amazing tunnel was built.