The great Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
Northampton County, Virginia
I was so looking forward to getting to this bridge, but I must admit it was so massively bigger than I could have imagined. How on earth someone even comes up with the idea of building a 17 mile bridge and tunnel combination across a complete bay, dumfounds me.
This project was completed in 1964 and encompasses 5 bridges and 2 tunnels. The tunnels were placed in the main shipping channels, not for ease of construction but for the protection of the nation.
Originally it was planned to have high bridges over the shippping lanes to allow shipping to get through, but, when the Navy got involved it was decided that for the protection of the whole Atlantic Fleet bridges could be blown up and block the channels, thus imprisoning the entire Atlantic Fleet within Chesapeake Bay.
Norfolk Naval Base sits to the north of the Chesapeake bay Bridge and therefore it was decided to put the tunnels underneath the shipping channels so as not to have a blocking situation.
When the largest warships or carriers leave or enter port the tunnels are closed for up to an hour whilst the warships pass over the tunnels due to clearance under the vessels. Under an aircraft carrier is just 14ft at high tide and 4ft at low tide.
The tunnels are closed and then after the carrier has passed over, the naval divers go down to check the tunnels have no damage and then they are cleared for re-opening. Just incredible.