In October 2016 I went with a couple friends to Chincoteague, Virginia, to watch the launch of Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket from nearby Wallops Island, sending the Cygnus module S.S. Alan G. Poindexter to the International Space Station as part of the OA-5 commercial resupply mission. I had my dashcam recording the trip (as it’s always recording) and decided to turn part of it into a timelapse. Here’s the crossing of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel northbound from mainland Virginia to the Eastern Shore:
The journey from toll plaza to toll plaza is about 20 miles and the span itself from shore to shore is 17.6 miles long. Officially renamed the Lucius J. Kellam, Jr. Bridge-Tunnel in 1987, the northbound span we drove in the video opened in 1964 as a 2-lane bridge carrying both northbound and southbound traffic. In 1999 a separate parallel span opened, becoming 2 southbound lanes. The parallel bridge span increased traffic capacity on the bridge portion and provided redundancy in the event of a problem impacting either span. A parallel tunnel is planned for the Thimble Shoal Channel (the first tunnel encountered in the video), bringing the same benefits to the tunnel portion; construction is expected to begin this fall. A similar project for the Chesapeake Channel (the second tunnel in the video) is expected, but is not currently on any long-range plans. Given that the current Parallel Thimble Shoal Tunnel Project is expected to cost more than $750 Million, it’s understandable that they’re taking it one project at a time!
The bridge toll is fairly expensive, I think $15 each way when we made the trip, but it saves a massive amount of time and driving distance. If you return within 24 hours, as we did, the return toll is only $5. It’s a pretty neat drive, though, and the Chincoteague area is lovely. I’d say it’s well worth the visit to cross the bridge and drive up the Eastern Shore to Chincoteague at least once. If you’re ever traveling up or down the east coast, and not in a hurry, it’s probably also worth traveling that way even if you’re just passing through, just to see a different part of the country than you get if you stick to I-95.