For Elizabeth River Tunnels, all the pieces are coming together

One of the 16,000-ton concrete tunnel elements being guided out of the dock and into the Patapsco River, from which it’ll connect to the Chesapeake Bay.

Last week, our Elizabeth River Tunnels team commenced the second and final movement of 16,000-ton hollow concrete tunnel elements, an amazing process that starts at our Baltimore-area casting facility and ends at the Portsmouth, Va., project site. In between, these tunnel segments – now floating – travel 220 miles south on the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

For each of these five elements, the trip takes about two days. Multiple tugboats guide each segment, which are outfitted with temporary fenders and bulkheads, and remotely monitored by our team via GPS and other satellite-based equipment. (Click here to watch our new video showing this journey.) All elements are scheduled to be in Portsmouth by April 11.

In Portsmouth, the first six elements that “floated out” in last June have all been placed one-by-one on the bottom of the Elizabeth River (click here for a graphic illustrating that process). The sixth one was placed in mid-March. The elements form the $2.1 billion public-private partnership project’s centerpiece, an expanded Midtown Tunnel.

At the 2015 Management Meeting earlier this month, USA Civil CEO Mike Cobelli praised the work of our Elizabeth River Tunnels joint venture, which has this signature project ahead of schedule.

In addition, though the project’s official completion date is 2018, it’s already won numerous awards. The latest - which we’re expecting to receive this week – is the Virginia Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award.

The Baltimore-area graving dock where the concrete elements were cast was flooded last week, so the units could be floated out.

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