FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 17, 2016
DOWNTOWN TUNNEL REHABILITATION COMPLETE
Substantial completion marks the end of full tunnel construction closures
PORTSMOUTH– Rehabilitation work at the Interstate 264 (I-264) Downtown Tunnel, meant to sustain the tunnel’s useful life beyond the 58-year Public-Private Partnership agreement between Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC) and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), is now complete. Motorists can travel between Norfolk and Portsmouth with the confidence of knowing the Downtown Tunnel will be open and their trips unhindered by full tunnel closures related to construction.
While construction activities will no longer be the cause of full tunnel closures, maintenance activities will necessitate scheduled single lane and full tunnel closures to keep the tunnel functioning and properly sustained. Maintenance activities include drain cleaning, tunnel washing, jet fan maintenance and any necessary damage repair from unforeseen events. Maintenance will be scheduled and coordinated to limit the impact on the traveling public.
“The rehabilitation of the tunnel has been successfully completed and will vastly improve the commute for the traveling public,” said Dan Norman, Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC) Construction Director. “The completed improvements will also extend the life of the structure and improve its energy efficiency and overall safety.”
Rehabilitation of the I-264 West Downtown Tunnel began with full weekend closures in August 2013. After critical overhead work was completed, and to help minimize construction impacts to motorists and businesses, work shifted in November 2013 to weeknights only.
Rehabilitation of the I-264 East Downtown Tunnel began in July 2014 with both full weekend closures and weeknight single lane closures. Critical overhead work on the eastbound tunnel included removal of the ceiling tiles, a task performed by VDOT in the westbound tunnel prior to ERC accepting maintenance and operations responsibilities for the Commonwealth.
Opened in 1952, the westbound Downtown Tunnel was the first fixed crossing under the Elizabeth River between Norfolk and Portsmouth. Tunnel rehabilitation consists of structural, fire, and life safety improvements. The improvements include tunnel fireproofing for structural protection, new jet fan ventilation systems, and LED tunnel lighting enhancing visibility and driver safety as well as increasing energy efficiency. Improvement efforts also include installation of new traffic cameras for incident detection, lane use signals, additional safety signage and tile and concrete repairs. In addition, the tunnel was repaved and highly reflective lane striping was applied to the roadway surface. Tunnel repaving activities typically withstand approximately 10-15 years of regular use.
The Elizabeth River Tunnels Project in Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia, provides critical transportation infrastructure to the Hampton Roads region. It involves design, construction, finance, operations and maintenance responsibilities for a new Midtown Tunnel and MLK Freeway Extension; existing tunnel rehabilitation; interchange modifications; and incident response, snow removal and roadway repairs for more than 50 lane miles within the project area. Headquartered in Portsmouth, Virginia, this public-private partnership is comprised of Elizabeth River Crossings OpCo, LLC and the Virginia Department of Transportation. For more information, visit http://www.DriveERT.com or follow us on Twitter.