Virginia state officials and members of the construction team for the new $756 million Chesapeake Bay Bridge tunnel will break ground on the five-year project on Sept. 18, according to The Hampton Roads Business Journal.
Contractors Dragados USA and Schiavone Construction Co., the joint venture team building the new Thimble Shoal Tunnel, will use a tunnel-boring machine (TBM) to create the two-lane underpass that will run parallel to the two existing tunnels. Use of a TBM aims to protect the bay's ecosystem and reduce the possibility of weather-related days because the equipment runs underground.
Construction of the new tunnel, which will build redundancy into cross-bay transportation, is expected to generate up to 1,000 temporary jobs. The state secured the funds, which include a mix of TIFIA and bond funding, to complete the project late last year.
Tunnel boring is a specialty service that Dragados provides. The company also participated in the construction of the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project in Seattle, where it took the TBM Bertha four years to tunnel a 1.75-mile path beneath the city.
Much of that time was spent on delays. Bertha broke down along its path in December 2013, and it took two years for crews to get the TBM operational again. Less than a month later, a sinkhole formed near Bertha's path, and the Washington State Department of Transportation and Gov. Jay Inslee shut the project down, reportedly for safety reasons. The Tutor Perini–led joint venture filled the sinkhole with concrete and put other monitoring procedures in place, allowing boring to restart. The project wrapped up in April 2017.
Amtrak's $24 billion Northeast Corridor Atlantic Gateway infrastructure improvement program calls for a second tunnel underneath the Hudson River and for repairs to the existing one, which sustained damaged during Superstorm Sandy. The Gateway Program Development Corporation (GPDC), which will oversee the project, recently announced it was exploring private-sector financing options and has hired a private-finance expert, Frances Sacr, to serve as interim CFO.