From 25 to 100 feet. According to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel Commission, the water depth ranges from 25 to 100 feet. Previously, 50 to 60 vehicles would drive up onto ferries, which would transport them over the sea, with the Chesapeake Bay to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. The last ferry crossed the bay on November 17, 1968.
The first bridge was built in 1912 by John McArthur Jr. for $7 million ($90 million in 2016 dollars). It was replaced by the current structure in 1967-68. The old bridge was demolished.
The longest suspension bridge in America when it was constructed in 1897 had a main span of 14,500 feet (4,420 meters), and today's bridge is more than twice as long! At the time it was built, this was considered very innovative engineering. The Golden Gate Bridge is an even longer suspension bridge that connects San Francisco to Marin County across the entrance to the Golden Gate Strait. It has been called "the most famous bridge in the world" because of its appearance in so many movies including some that have nothing to do with music.
Music has played a very important role in the history of the Bay Bridge. It was originally named the Oakland-Alameda Bridge after it connected Oakland to Alameda. In 1969, it was renamed in memory of Albert J. Bissell, who died while serving as director of the Bureau of Public Roads.
The tunnels are linked to the bridge portions by four man-made islands the size of a football field apiece. The channel between each island and the main portion of the bay is also about 250 feet wide.
The bridges and tunnels were built in the 1960s to replace an aging system of swing bridges and ferries that had become congested. The new bridges were designed to be able to handle heavy truck traffic from nearby highways. They also include parking garages with levels for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
These bridges have been named among the best outdoor museums in America by National Geographic magazine. The bay itself is a national monument.
The bridge project was originally going to be funded by private donations, but when these weren't coming in fast enough the state stepped in with some money it obtained by issuing bonds. The total cost was $250 million at the time it was completed; today it would be over $1 billion.
The original plan was to open the first bridge to traffic on April 1, 1964, but construction delays forced that opening back until the spring of 1965. The last piece of the puzzle, the final bridge, opened to traffic on May 15, 1969.
|Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel|
|Total length||17.6 miles (28.3 km)|
|Clearance below||75 feet (22.9 m) (North Channel) 40 feet (12.2 m) (Fisherman Inlet)|
|Opened||April 15, 1964 (northbound) April 19, 1999 (southbound)|
The Chesapeake Channel tunnel is 5,450 feet long and features a 1,700-foot channel with a minimum depth of 50 feet and a 2,300-foot channel with a minimum depth of 40 feet. In the tunnels, the maximum highway grade is 4%. The Maryland portion of the tunnel is supported by an extensive network of more than 9,000 steel piles.
The tunnel was built as part of a project to build a bridge over the channel for traffic heading to Virginia's Eastern Shore. The decision was made in 1933 to replace the existing bridge that crossed over the channel near Easton with one that would be longer and carry more traffic. Work on the new bridge began in 1936 and was completed four years later at a cost of $7 million. The first vehicle drove through the new bridge on November 11, 1940.
In addition to its role as a transportation link, the tunnel also serves as an underwater museum because of its history as a canning factory during World War II. The plant produced nearly 30% of the food consumed by GIs stationed in Europe at that time.
The tunnel today is used by freight trains carrying industrial products to markets along the Northeast Coast. However, it still plays a role in maritime history by serving as the only route for large vessels to enter and leave Chesapeake Bay.
There are three main entrances into the tunnel from both Maryland and Virginia.
The bridge and tunnel connect Cape Charles in the north to Virginia Beach in the south. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel spans around 20 miles. It is made up of trestle and high-level bridges that are separated by two mile-long tunnels. The main span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is the world's longest single-span suspension bridge structure.
The bay bridge was built to replace an earlier fixed bridge that had been damaged by a hurricane. The new bridge opened on Oct. 17, 1964. It replaced the old bridge which remains standing today as an iconic piece of Maryland history.
The bay bridge carries four traffic lanes and two shoulders across the marshy tidal flats of Virginia and into the heart of downtown Virginia Beach. There are over 150 buildings including restaurants and hotels on the Virginia side of the bay bridge. Motorists use the bridge to cross from one side of the bay to the other. A trip across the bridge only takes a few minutes but it can be busy during rush hour.
In addition to being a major commuter route, the bay bridge also serves as a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can drive or ride across the bridge in cable cars, miniature golf courses, go karts, or horse-drawn carriages. There are also viewing areas with telescopes where people can watch marine life in the bay.