Student competition underway to name new HRBT Tunnel Boring Machine


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) Expansion Project kicked off its competition for local middle school students to name the new Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) this week.

Submissions are currently open, the registration deadline is Oct. 23, and the deadline to submit ideas is Nov. 13. The committee plans to announce the winning name at a ceremony in Spring 2021. First, second, and third place winners will be recognized at the ceremony.

“This contest draws attention to the real-world applications of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) studies and celebrates the creativity of future drivers in the region,” said HRBT Expansion Project Director Jim Utterback. “We welcome the participation of the students and look forward to seeing the entries.”

Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) | (Courtesy: VDOT)

The TBM Naming Committee is looking for names that tie into the Hampton Roads community, Commonwealth of Virginia, transportation, or engineering. HRBT officials say that historically, naming a TBM has been thought to bring good luck to a project.

VDOT says the TBM is currently being built in Germany and is a highly-specialized piece of equipment designed to bore through deep soils and construct new twin tunnels. Once complete, it will be assembled in Hampton Roads. Tunneling is expected to occur between 2022 and 2025.

The HRBT in southeastern Virginia has long been one of the region’s most congested corridors. When complete, the $3.8 billion projects will ease congestion on I-64 through the addition of twin, two-lane bored tunnels, and the widening of four-lane segments along I-64 in Hampton and Norfolk.

VDOT-HRBT Expansion Project | (Courtesy: VDOT)

The existing 3.5-mile facility consists of two 2-lane immersed-tube tunnels on artificial islands, with trestle bridges to shore. These tunnels opened in 1957 (current westbound lanes) and 1976 (eastbound lanes) and are approximately 7,500 feet long. Traffic on these four lanes exceeds 100,000 vehicles per day during peak summer traffic.

VDOT-HRBT Expansion Project (Courtesy: VDOT)

Hampton Roads Connector Partners (builder) Project Executive Jose Martin Alos said, “While most of the tunnels in the region are immersed tube tunnels, the HRBT Expansion Project will utilize the bored tunnel approach. That makes the TBM an integral component of the project.”

Click here for more information on contest rules, registration, and to download the contest toolkit.

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