Friday, October 9, 2009

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel ~ One of Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World ~ Maryland USA

We left Virginia Landing with overcast skies and headed south down Hwy 13 to get to Virginia Beach. It is a short driving day but an exciting one because we are going to cross Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. We really have no idea what to expect other than it is crossing the water and is about 20 miles long.

We also didn’t know what the fees would be and expected them to be something to break the bank. We spent most of the next hour debating about what 'bridge tunnel' could mean.
Highway 13 in Virginia USA on a very wet day

The toll station was at the beginning of the bridge tunnel, some tolls are paid at the end, and it cost us $28.00 and the attendant gave Maggie a treat. We are now committed to crossing. We have a ways to go yet.
It may have helped to research this before we left but sometimes it is more fun to be surprised ! This is way more than we might have ever expected.

Chesapeake Bay Viewpoint

There is a viewpoint just before the No Stopping sign, but there was no point in stopping with such limited visibility. Once we begin crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, there is no turnaround point.
The rain gave us limited visibility, especially when looking out to the water. The lanes begin on land so for the first moments we still had no idea where we were going. Then we see a bridge turning a corner in the distance. . . That must be over the water!

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

As we drive up onto the bridge, we see that it is separated from the other direction and makes a corner to begin the long drive. What a sight! With the rain and limited visibility, it looks like the bridge drives off into nowhere! A very eerie sight.  If I'd had a choice, I certainly would prefer to have blue sky and sunshine for this day, but then if we did have that, we wouldn't have this experience.  This looks like a scary movie setting.

On the Bridge - Maryland USA
This bridge was completed in 1964 and was selected as one of the “Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World”. In 1965 it received the “Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement” award. We didn’t realize this as we crossed but we can understand why. This bridge tunnel is going on forever !

Chesapeake Tunnel Signs
The highway narrows to one lane only to pass through the tunnel. Although the name suggests both a tunnel and a bridge, I couldn’t imagine it being both; one or the other was easier to understand.

Entering the tunnel
Once we saw the bridge-tunnel combination, the Engineering Achievement award made sense: Two underwater tunnels, each about a mile long, protect two of the world’s most important shipping channels.

Inside the Mile-Long Tunnel
When we later learned all about this incredible Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, it was even more amazing to learn that the total cost of this project, including a second span completed in 1999, was $450 million, but none paid with tax money.

Leaving the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel
The traffic went both ways in each of the tunnels, so there was no twinning of the tunnels.  Once we are out of the tunnel and see daylight again, we still cannot see land.

A curve on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

We hadn’t checked the mileage when we started across the Bridge Tunnel but are starting to wonder if we will ever get to the end of this.

Second Tunnel ~ Chesapeake Bay Bridge

Now we have another tunnel, can’t believe there are actually two tunnels on this crossing.
It measures 17.6 miles from shore to shore, the Bridge-Tunnel consists of more than 12 miles of trestled roadway, two mile-long tunnels, two bridges, four man-made islands, almost two miles of causeway, and 5.5 miles of approach roads, totaling 23 miles.

Virginia Beach End Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel
Not that I had any real doubt that it would happen, but we made it to the other side and didn’t drive off into Never-never-land, and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel leads us onto more exciting RV adventures.


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