The underwater tunnel still amazes
If you have ever traveled to Norfolk, Virginia, and its vicinity you have no doubt traveled through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. This magnificent structure of a bridge underwater has fascinated people around the world for close to 60 years. My first time through the tunnel I literally held my breath expecting it to cave in. On the return trip home I felt a bit more at ease.
The structure extends U.S. Highway Route 13 over the water with a pair of two-lane bridges. After a few miles, the bridges connect and dip underground into a small manmade island and tunnel to allow the passage of ships on the bay.
From questionable to profitable
The concept came about in 1960 when the Chesapeake Bay Ferry Commission sold $200 million in revenue bonds to private investors. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel was completed on April 15, 1964, and did not use one dime of local, state, or federal tax money during construction. In 1965 it was listed as one of the "Seven Engineering wonders of the Modern World."
The roadway resurfaces from the tunnel at a second manmade island approximately one mile after the first. It then splits again into two bridges for several miles until the next tunnel, which mirrors the first in its construction. Some miles after the second tunnel, the bridge lands on the tip of the Delmarva Peninsula at Cape Charles, Virginia, and Route 13 continues north.
The 23 miles of bridges, tunnels, and land roads were initially considered risky but now have proven profitable with the test of time.