Wednesday, June 06, 2007

"The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel"

Skip to the random thought

After Amber and I left Busch Gardens Williamsburg, we took off for Delaware. I'm going to talk more about Delaware tomorrow (and why we went there in the first place - no, it wasn't for the NASCAR race). For today, I'm going to talk about one of the coolest bridge systems ever, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

The CBBT connects the Hampton Roads area with the Delmarva Peninsula, so named because it incorporates Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. The bridge-tunnel system is 17.6 miles long from shore to shore. As implied by the name, the CBBT incorporates two one-mile tunnels that go under water. That's the coolest thing about the CBBT. It's really weird how the road just disappears when you're looking at it from afar. It makes me wonder how they build something like that without having the tunnel fill up with water. I guess they have engineers to figure that stuff out. Either way, it would have been a fun project, and I think it would make a good episode of the History Channel's "Modern Marvels" (if they haven't gone there already). Sometimes, I think I should have been a civil engineer.

Three months ago, Amber and I took the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island. How does this bridge compare? I'd say the CBBT is far superior, in length, complexity, and fun. The CBBT is also cheaper. Tolls are $12 each way, and you get a $7 discount if you return in less than 24 hours (which we did). Thus, we paid $17 round-trip, about half the cost of the Confederation Bridge ($40 Canadian, only for the return trip), which was much shorter, and had far less visibility. Then again, it was a bridge to Prince Edward Island, and that alone is pretty cool. But you could see just about everything from the CBBT bridges.

This wasn't the first time I had taken the CBBT. It may not have even been the second. But regardless, I'm pretty sure it was the first time I had taken the bridge since the summer of 1992. Since then, the bridge system has been widened to two bridges (one for each directon), for a total of four lanes. The first bridge opened in 1964, and the second parallel bridge (which carries southbound traffic) opened in 1999. I remembered very little about this bridge, because I don't recall the bridge only being two lanes the whole way. Oh well. They haven't expanded the tunnels yet; each tunnel still carries two-way traffic, but building a set of parallel tunnels (just like the bridges) is in the planning stage (I think). Personally, I think the current 4-lane bridge, 2-lane tunnel system carries the traffic load just fine, but that's just my opinion. (The Norfolk-to-Newport News bridge-tunnels, however...that's a different story. More on that on Friday.)

Not only did I not remember much about the bridge from 15 years ago, I remembered almost nothing about the rest of US-13 either. The only thing I remember was a side road called "James Allen Dr" in the Virginia portion of the Delmarva peninsula. (The road is still there.) There isn't much else to remember in Northampton and Accomack counties, anyway. (Those are the two Virginia counties on the peninsula.) They felt really desolate. People lived there, but not many. What do these people do for a living? Other than services, the only real job-type stuff to be found here were a couple of chicken factories (one for Perdue, and one for Tyson). Is that what the people of Exmore, Cape Charles, and Temperanceville for a living? What else would they do? While there appears to be a shortage of jobs out here, there is no shortage of Hardee's locations. There isn't much else, though. This area kind of reminded me of the Florida Keys. But how desolate and forgotten would this area be if not for the CBBT?

While the Virginia portion of the peninsula was rather isolated, the civilization picked up significantly once we crossed into Maryland. That's where I'll pick up tomorrow.

Today's random thought:

- Many of my posts haven't had a random thought lately, because I've been having trouble coming up with them. So, in an effort to help me, I put in a google search for "random thoughts". I forget everything that came up, but one thing that came up was a "random thought generator". That sounds like a good thing, except that anybody can submit their own thought into it, and thus all of the thoughts are either clich├ęd or stupid. Oh well. That was absolutely no help.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dude!!! My name is Roger. Good to see you think that much of the CBBT. Me and my ex went through in early august '06. I apologize for being a little bit buzzed, beer is good. When going through the CBBT I had already saw it on history channel. Made me feel smart to know what I was talking about. CBBT rocks. A true modern marvel. I appreciate the fact America has people smart enough to devise something like this and then pull it off. Kudos to all involved in ther construction. As few times as I get out and see this great country, I bring home a piece of what America is all about. The will to make things better and follow through on them. The CBBT is a testament to American ingenuity and know how. GOD bless America.