CBBT Part 1

Beez Neez now Chy Whella
Big Bear and Pepe Millard
Wed 22 Jun 2011 22:00
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel






We left Norfolk behind us and saw nothing but a huge, wide expanse of water for an hour or so, Bear kept asking from his perch beside me - Can you see the bridge yet "No". When I did some miles ahead I could not believe my eyes. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is a Goliath piece of engineering. In the second picture I took; the chum anchored just the other side is a dwarf compared to it. 




The CBBT: is a 23-mile long fixed link crossing the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and connecting the Delmarva Peninsula's Eastern Shore of Virginia with Virginia Beach and the metropolitan area of Hampton Roads, Virginia. It replaced vehicle ferry services which operated from South Hampton Roads and from the Virginia Peninsula from the 1930s until completion of the bridge-tunnel in 1964. The bridge-tunnel originally combined 12 miles of trestle, two 1-mile long tunnels, four artificial islands, two high-level bridges, approximately 2 miles of causeway and 5.5 miles of approach roads - crossing the Chesapeake Bay and preserving traffic on the Thimble Shoals and Chesapeake shipping channels. The system remains one of only eight bridge-tunnel systems in the world, three of which are located in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Since it opened, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel has been crossed by more than 100 million vehicles. The CBBT complex carries U.S. Route 13, the main north–south highway on Virginia's Eastern Shore, and, as part of the East Coast's longstanding Ocean Highway, provides the only direct link between Virginia's Eastern Shore and South Hampton Roads regions, as well as an alternate route to link the Northeast and points in between with Norfolk and the Carolinas. The bridge-tunnel saves motorists 95 miles and 1½ hours on a trip between Virginia Beach/Norfolk and points north and east of the Delaware Valley without going through the traffic congestion in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area




Financed: by toll revenue bonds, the bridge-tunnel was opened on the 15th of April 1964. It was officially named the Lucius J. Kellam Jr. Bridge-Tunnel in August 1987 after one of the civic leaders who had long worked for its development and operation. However, it continues to be best known as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. From 1995 to 1999, at a cost of almost $200 million, the capacity of the above-water portion was increased to four lanes. The CBBT was built by and is operated by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel District, a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia governed by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel Commission. The CBBT's costs are recovered through toll collections. In 2002, a Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) study commissioned by the Virginia General Assembly concluded that "given the inability of the state to fund future capital requirements of the CBBT, the District and Commission should be retained to operate and maintain the Bridge-Tunnel as a toll facility in perpetuity."


Settling both sides of the Chesapeake Bay: In December 1606, the Virginia Company of London sent an expedition to North America to establish a settlement in the Colony of Virginia. After sailing across the Atlantic Ocean from England, they reached the New World at the southern edge of the mouth of what is now known as the Chesapeake Bay. They named the Virginia capes after the sons of their king, the southern Cape Henry, for Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, and the northern Cape Charles, for his younger brother, Charles, Duke of York. A few weeks later they established their first permanent settlement on the southern, mainland, side of the bay, along the James River at Jamestown. Across the bay, the area north of Cape Charles was located along what became known later as the Delmarva Peninsula. As it bordered the bay to its east, the region became known as Virginia's Eastern Shore. As the entire colony grew, the bay was a formidable transportation obstacle for exchanges with the Virginia mainland. One of the eight original shires of Virginia was established there in 1634, eventually becoming the two counties of modern times. However, in comparison to mainland regions, commerce and growth was limited by the need to cross the bay. Consequently, little industrial base grew there, and most residents made their living by farming and working as watermen, both on the Bay (locally known as the "bay side") and in the Atlantic Ocean ("sea side"). For the first 350 years, ships and ferry systems provided the primary transportation. 




1930’s–1960’s ferry system: From the early 1930s to 1954, Virginia Ferry Corporation, a privately-owned public service company managed a scheduled vehicular (car, bus, truck) and passenger ferry service between the Virginia Eastern Shore and Princess Anne County (now part of Virginia Beach) in the South Hampton Roads area. This system, a portion of U.S. Route 13, was known as the Little Creek-Cape Charles Ferry. In 1951, the Northern terminus was relocated to a location now within Kiptopeke State Park. Despite an expanded fleet of large and modern ships eventually capable of as many as 90 one-way trips each day, the lengthy crossing suffered delays due to heavy traffic and inclement weather. In 1954, the Virginia General Assembly (state legislature) created a political subdivision, the Chesapeake Bay Ferry District and its governing body, the Chesapeake Bay Ferry Commission. The Commission was authorized to acquire the private ferry corporation through bond financing, to improve the existing ferry service. Once the bridge-tunnel was built, much of the ferry equipment used by the Little Creek-Cape Charles Ferry service was then sold and redeployed to start the Cape May-Lewes Ferry across the 17-mile mouth of the Delaware Bay between Cape May, New Jersey and Lewes, Delaware. 


Studying a fixed crossing: In 1956, the General Assembly authorised the Ferry Commission to conduct feasibility studies for the construction of a fixed crossing. The conclusion of the study indicated that a vehicular crossing was feasible. Consideration was given to service between the Eastern Shore and both the Peninsula and South Hampton Roads. Eventually, the shortest route, extending between the Eastern Shore and a point in Princess Anne County at Chesapeake Beach (east of Little Creek, west of Lynnhaven Inlet), was selected. An option to also provide a fixed crossing link to Hampton and the Peninsula was not pursued. Initially, high-level bridges were contemplated to cross over the two main shipping channels on the selected route, Thimble Shoals Channel, which leads to Hampton Roads, and the Chesapeake Channel, which leads to points north in the Bay, notably the Port of Baltimore. However, the U.S. Navy objected, due to concerns that collapse of high level bridge(s) (due to either accidental or deliberate action) could cause a large portion of the Atlantic fleet based at the Norfolk Navy Base at Sewell's Point and other craft within the Hampton Roads harbor area to be blocked from access to the Atlantic Ocean. To address these concerns, the engineers recommended a series of bridges and tunnels known as a bridge-tunnel, similar in design to the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, which had been completed in 1957, but a considerably longer and larger facility. The tunnel portions, anchored by four man-made islands of approximately 5.25 acres each, would be extended under the two main shipping channels. The CBBT was designed by the engineering firm Sverdrup & Parcel of St. Louis, Missouri, who also served as the construction manager for the project. The sheer size of the CBBT can be seen in this aerial picture.






                      ENORMOUS AND VERY IMPRESSIVE