Armor Rock Habitat Survey of Hampton Roads Tunnel

Report No: 94-R4

Published in 1993

About the report:

The I-64 Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel spans the James River estuary and the lower Chesapeake Bay between the cities of Hampton and Norfolk. Two large wave-built spits, Willoughby Spit and Old Point Comfort, extend into the harbor beyond, the tunnels. This study examines the marine life inhabiting the Hampton Roads tunnel islands approximately 10 years after construction. One aim of this study was to examine the differences in marine organism populations following the transformation of a soft sandy bottom to a hard substrate artificial habitat. Artificial reefs located in temperate waters have received relatively little attention. This study, which focuses on macrobenthics, examines the range of artificial reef inhabitants on the Hampton Roads Tunnel islands. The organisms living on the island armor rock and in the soft sediment surrounding the islands (which is typical of preconstruction conditions) were sampled and identified. The number of species identified and the measurements of biomass occurring on the armor rock were compared with the populations found in the surrounding soft sediments. Benthic data were compared with results of previous studies by others that established normal population patterns for particular seasons and habitats in this area. Factors responsible for the establishment of shorebird colonies on the Hampton Roads tunnel islands and VDOT's role in maintaining a habitat suitable for the birds were examined.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Daniel D. McGeehan, Lynn Samuel

Last updated: December 23, 2023

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