Nearly 700 construction projects across the U.S. entered the Best Projects competition, with many winning awards in one of ENR’s 10 regional competitions in 20 project categories. Industry experts served as judges for the competitions, and category winners from each region competed for national honors.
In addition to the Project of the Year Award, Elizabeth River Tunnels was the winner in the highway/bridge category and won the Excellence in Safety award. The "Best of the Best" awards will be presented at a ceremony in New York City on April 5-6.
Two other WSP projects—the Second Avenue Subway and 56 Leonard, both in New York City—were among 20 finalists for the Project of the Year Award and winners in the airport/transit and residential categories, respectively.
The Elizabeth River Tunnels Project in the Hampton Roads region of Southern Virginia, included the construction of the 4,000-foot-long, two-lane West Midtown Tunnel for U.S. Route 58. The public-private project also included rehabilitation and improvements to the existing Downtown Tunnels, Midtown Tunnel, and a one-mile extension of the Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway—an elevated four-lane, north-south expressway with a raised median.
WSP was the lead designer for SKW Constructors, the design-builder for the project owner, Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC). ERC now manages tunnel operations for the Virginia Department of Transportation as part of a 58-year concession.
The tunnel carries westbound traffic under the Elizabeth River between Norfolk and Portsmouth. It was built to relieve congestion and improve safety by eliminating the Midtown Tunnel’s bi-directional traffic. The original tunnel, which accommodated 8,400 vehicles a day when it opened in 1962, now supports 38,000 vehicles every day.
“The additional connectivity between the new tunnel and MLK freeway connection have greatly improved traffic in both cities,” said Fred Parkinson, WSP project manager.
The tunnel features bright, long-lasting, and efficient LED lighting, and will be the first Virginia tunnel to use an all-electronic toll collection system. The intelligent transportation system includes 60 closed-circuit cameras with automated incident detection capability and dynamic message signs along the project corridors.
The project was completed in June 2017, nearly one year ahead of schedule. It has received numerous awards, including the 2017 Excellence in Design award for engineering from the Design-Build Institute of America, and it was one of five finalists for the American Society of Civil Engineer’s Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award.
“We’re all excited and proud that project has been recognized across the industry as an innovative solution that improved mobility across the region,” Parkinson said. “The travelling public has welcomed the better traffic flow and improved safety and user experience at the three existing tunnels.”