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Parallel Thimble Shoal Tunnel Update
Spring 2023

What's New?

The Blessing of the Tunnel Boring Machine

Did you know…that according to tunneling traditions, workers looked to Saint Barbara, a third-century Christian martyr, who is considered in many countries to be the patron saint or protector of miners and tunnelers?  She is also considered a refuge for electricians, welders, firefighters, artillerymen, architects, masons, prisoners, armies, pyrotechnicians, and a protector against storm damage, storms, lightning, fire and sudden death.

On February 10, 2023, in keeping with tunneling tradition, Father Cristiano of Saint Gregory the Great Catholic Church in Virginia Beach, VA blessed a statue of Saint Barbara at the entrance of the tunnel. Additional blessings and prayers for protection were extended to all workers on this project.

Following the blessings, Father Cristiano powered on  Chessie  and the statue of Saint Barbara was transferred to the cabin of the TBM, where she will remain throughout the project.

Oh dear Saint Barbara, bring us grace and bless us with your everlasting devotion.  Protect us from danger and accidental death, and protect us from the evils of this world.

~Traditional prayer of Saint Barbara

And we’re off…

On February 21, 2023, Chessie began her initial excavation at the tunnel’s headwall, marking the official start of tunneling for the Parallel Thimble Shoal Channel Tunnel.

As Herrenknecht performs the final testing and commissioning of the TBM, tunneling will start out slowly, with the installation of one ring a day, or the progression of approximately 6.5 feet.  Over the next few months, progress will slowly increase to 3-4 rings per day, and eventually reach 7-10 rings per day, progressing approximately 60 feet.

The new tunnel will be just over one mile in total length and it is anticipated to take approximately 12-14 months for Chessie to complete the dig.

On the north side of the island, work progresses on the construction of the engineered berm.

On Two Island, progress is being made on the receiving pit for Chessie as well as the support of excavation.  This work will continue over the course of the next year.  Remember, much of the work on Two Island will mirror that of One Island.

Tunnel Segments

With the TBM’s operations testings underway, tunnel segments are being transported from CSI in Chesapeake, VA to #1 Island.  More than 9,000 tunnel segments will be installed to complete the new tunnel at Thimble Shoal Channel.