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TBM Operator job in Norfolk at Dragados

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TBM Operator at Dragados

TBM Operator

Dragados Norfolk, VA Full Time
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The Hampton Roads Connector Partners JV (HRCP) consisting of Dragados USA, VINCI Construction, and Flatiron, has been selected to construct the $3.3BN Design Build project; the largest civil construction contract ever awarded by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). 

The project scope across a 9 mile section of the I-64 will include: a new 3.5-mile bridge-tunnel crossing that will accommodate a total of 8 lanes of capacity across the water, replacement of the existing marine approach bridges and the addition of a third lane on I-64 in each direction. The twin 45’ diameter 1.5-mile tunnels will be bored by TBM, creating the second largest TBM tunnel opening for a TBM in North America. The project is expected to continue to the end of 2025.  

The HRBT tunnel boring machine is a mobile plant 425 feet long and 45 feet in diameter, equipped with recent technology (variable density) allowing it to excavate in difficult geologies. The operator carries out a permanent control of the progress of the machine, from the cockpit he regulates the pressure parameters in the excavation chamber, the pressure of the thrust cylinders, the speed of rotation of the cutting wheel and its step, the injection of 27,5 cubic yards every 6,5 feet of a two-component mortar into the annular void and follows the planned route in a 3D environment. The use of the Variable density adds to all this, the management of additional parameters which are, adjustment of the flow rates in the drilling fluid network (up to 13,200 US gpm) 3000 m3 / h, the distribution of this flow between the excavation chamber and fluidization box, and the speed and pressure in the extraction screw of the excavated materials. 

The TBM Operator will work jointly with a team of electricians, automation engineers, specialized mechanics, hydraulic engineers and topographers. it is also in contact with the surface and the operator of the drilling fluid treatment plant with which it determines the rheological adjustments required per the geologies crossed. 

The candidate must know how to appreciate many parameters in mechanics, electricity, automation, but also in civil engineering, they must also consider the geological nature of the ground. 

This position is a key position on tunnel sites, which is why the operator must know how to manage a certain stress, identify incidents and breakdowns. He is at the center of the tunnel boring machine's communication, he must know how to receive and transmit the right information to the right person, in short, it is his responsibility to find the ideal understanding between the machine, the people and the ground to be digged. 

The complexity of operating a machine of this diameter (45 feet), as example pressure difference between the top of the excavation chamber and the bottom is 1.4 bar (20.3 psi, and this under the ocean, in difficult geology, and in the immediate vicinity of two other tunnels open to traffic, it is in its ability to have the right reflex if an unexpected situation arises, or to be able to give the right diagnosis if there is a technical problem, that the experience of the operators can here really make the difference and ensure the safety of the employees who work on the construction, as well as the good completion of the work. 

Because we are going to use a variable density tunnel boring machine, the operators must necessarily have extensive experience on large diameter Mix Shield and Earth Pressure Balance machines, with high pressures. 

 As a TBM Operator on the $3.3BN Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel Expansion Project (HRBT) in Virginia, you will assist the TBM Superintendent with the tunnel excavation.  


  • Operates Tunnel Boring Machines (TBM) for excavation of tunnel 
  • Tends pumps, compressors, and generators to provide power for tools, machinery, and equipment 
  • Lubricates, cleans, and repairs machinery, equipment, and tools 
  • Operate underground machinery including conveyors, pumps, or locomotives for removal of excavated material 
  • Move controls to start and position drills, and to advance tools into tunnel faces in order to complete horizontal or vertical cuts 
  • Move levers to control and adjust the movement of equipment, the speed, height, rotation and depth of cuts 
  • Observe indicator lights and gauges, and listen to machine operation in order to detect binding or stoppage of tools or other equipment problems 
  • Reposition machines and move controls in order to make additional holes or cuts 
  • Fabricate various metal items by torch cutting and welding 
  • May assist other craft workers 
  • Perform other duties as required 


  • Prior experience on a tunneling project with a tunnel driven in soil with a high ground water table (at least three bars) for at least 3,000 feet in length and a minimum diameter of 30 feet.
  • Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction, repair and maintenance of machinery and tools
  • Knowledge of Hard Rock, Earth Pressure Balance, or Mixed Shield (Slurry) TBM technology 
  • Operate machinery and systems including drills, pumps, hoists, winches, and TBMs 
  • Must be able to interpret drawings and written instructions 
  • Monitoring gauges, dials, or other indicators to make certain equipment is working properly 
  • Experience with determining causes of operating errors and providing solutions 
  • Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operation, and the environment will affect outcomes 
  • Experience with Pre-Cast Segmental Liner preferred 
  • Knowledge of company safety policies and procedures to comply with company, local, state, and/or federal laws 
  • Proven knowledge in determining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job 
  • Communicate effectively with coworkers, supervisors, and engineers

Physical Demands: 

  • Ability to coordinate two or more limbs while sitting, standing, or lying down 
  • Ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine to exact position 
  • Occasional bending, stooping, twisting, crawling, kneeling 
  • Occasional climbing of ladders 
  • Occasional lifting up to 50 pounds from ground to waist level 
  • Occasional repetitive use of powered and non-powered hand tools 
  • Occasional repetitive use of vibrating hand tools 
  • Constant repetitive hand, forearm, foot, and leg activities 
  • Constant sitting 
  • Repetitive movement of arms, legs, and torso together when the whole body is in motion 
  • Work in environmental extremes of heat and cold dependent upon job location 
  • Frequent work in dusty environments 
  • Frequent work in areas of excessive noise 
  • Work variable hours including overtime hours as needed 


  • Comprehensive compensation package  
  • Health Insurance/Dental Insurance/Vision Insurance  
  • Employer Paid Life Insurance and AD&D  
  • Wellness benefits & Employee Assistance Program  
  • Paid Holidays  
  • Paid Time Off 

This job description describes the general nature and level of work performed by employees within this classification. It is not a comprehensive inventory of all duties, responsibilities and qualifications required of employees assigned to this job. This document does not create an employment contract, implied or otherwise; employment in this job is an “at will” employment relationship.   

Equal Opportunity Employer/Protected Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities

The contractor will not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against employees or applicants because they have inquired about, discussed, or disclosed their own pay or the pay of another employee or applicant. However, employees who have access to the compensation information of other employees or applicants as a part of their essential job functions cannot disclose the pay of other employees or applicants to individuals who do not otherwise have access to compensation information, unless the disclosure is (a) in response to a formal complaint or charge, (b) in furtherance of an investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, including an investigation conducted by the employer, or (c) consistent with the contractor’s legal duty to furnish information. 41 CFR 60-1.35(c)

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