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DONOR SPOTLIGHT: elizabeth river crossing

Your name: Carley Brierre
Your position: Communications Manager
Company name: Elizabeth River Crossings
Phone number: (757) 932-4400
Business address: 152 Tunnel Facility Dr. Portsmouth, VA 23707
Industry: Transportation/Tolling

Describe what the company you work for does and what your position entails:

Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC) is about connecting the communities of Norfolk and Portsmouth. Our facilities bring safer, more efficient transportation to the region. ERC is owned by Abertis and Manulife Investment Management. We finance, operate, and maintain the Downtown and Midtown Tunnels, the MLK Freeway extension, and 51 lane miles of associated roadway, as part of a 58-year public-private partnership (P3) with the Virginia Department of Transportation, which began in April 2012.

In my role I oversee all external and internal communications and marketing initiatives, including public affairs, and serve as the company’s spokesperson. I also manage our “Connecting Communities” program, which encompasses all of our community engagement and charitable giving.

Describe what the company you work for does and What is your personal connection to the Elizabeth River Trail?

The health of Elizabeth River and surrounding wetlands is very important to us as a company. Our tunnels go through the Elizabeth River, and the trail boarders some of our facility lines, so we want to make sure it’s well taken care of, and that there’s a sustainable future.

Why did you/your company decide to provide sponsorship to trail?

Our company provides a physical crossing under the river, connecting the cities of Portsmouth and Norfolk. But we also want to make a meaningful connection, by connecting members of our community to important resources, and helping local nonprofits that are making the greatest impact. The trail is recreational resource that we think is important for neighborhood connectivity, environmental awareness, and more. In 2013, ERC spent over $100,000 to construct what is now know as the “Sentra Loop” portion of the Elizabeth River Trail. Originally envisioned as a temporary detour around the construction area of the new Midtown Tunnel, it has become a permanent part of the trail connecting the neighborhoods of Freemason, Ghent, West Ghent and Chelsea.

Given your business expertise and the nature of what you do, what benefits do you feel the trail has for the business community?

The trail certainly has the potential to offer real economic development opportunities for the city of Norfolk and beyond. There are several nearby dining and shopping opportunities, as well as local attractions. We’re lucky that both our tunnels are adjacent to the trail, and we hope that we our infrastructure provides a seamless route to get people there!

What’s your favorite trail moment?

Our favorite moment was seeing the finished obstacle course at the Plum Point Park Trailhead for the first time in September 2020. We are so proud of the way our operations and maintenance team stepped in to help make that project a success. Because that trailhead is so close to our Midtown Tunnel, we really wanted help make that space clean and safe for visitors. We made structural changes to the surrounding area, improved the landscaping, installed lighting, and more. We continue to help maintain that area. Seeing it for the first time was a very proud moment for our company!

Favorite Trailgrazing spot? (i.e. best local food spot steps from the trail)

Harbor Park of course! Can’t beat walking (or scootering) to catch a baseball game and eat some stadium snacks. We’re a proud partner of the Tides, and we catch as many games as we can.

Best view of the Elizabeth River for the trail?

We may be biased, but we love the overlook crossing just outside Midtown Tunnel. It’s an excellent view of the river, our facilities, and the city we call home, Portsmouth.

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