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_   Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
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Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
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Vital Statistics:
Location: Cape Charles and Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA
Completion Date: 1964
Cost: $200 million
Length: 89,760 feet (total length); 5,280 feet (length of each tunnel)
Type: Beam, Tunnel
Purpose: Roadway
Materials: Steel, Concrete
Engineer(s): Sverdrup & Parcel

Distinguished as an "Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement" by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1965, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is nothing short of a modern engineering wonder. Dipping over and under open waters with a complex chain of artificial islands, tunnels, and bridges, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge provides a direct link between Southeastern Virginia and the Delmarva (Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia) Peninsula. The bridge-tunnel complex is 17.6 miles long from shore to shore, and it cuts 95 miles from the journey between Virginia Beach and points north of Wilmington, Delaware.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
Click photo
for larger image.

The majority of the bridge-tunnel complex is above the water, supported by more than 5,000 piers. But due to the importance of shipping in the bay, the crossing was sunk deep beneath the bay in two mile-long tunnels, to allow the passage of ships. Four artificial islands, each with approximately ten acres of surface, provide the portals by which the road enters the tunnels. Itís quite an eerie experience to be driving along and see the road youíre on disappear into the bay. Millions of cars have crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel since it opened in 1965. Itís possible that many just crossed it for the thrill of it!

Here's how this tunnel stacks up against some of the longest tunnels in the world.
(total length, in feet)

Chart showing the relative size of the longest tunnels in the world
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel 89,760' (total length); 5,280' (length of each tunnel)

Fast Facts:
  • There is a picture of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel on the cover of "The Way It Is," the first album by Bruce Hornsby and The Range.
  • Following its opening in 1964, the Bridge-Tunnel was selected "One of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World" in a worldwide competition that included more than 100 major projects.
  • Since it opened in 1965, more than 67 million vehicles have crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.
  • One artificial island actually has a gift shop, restrooms, and a parking lot to allow drivers to stretch, relax, and enjoy the scenic view.

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