Parallel Thimble Shoal Tunnel Project
The Project entails the construction of a 5,700 foot bored tunnel connecting two southbound trestles of the existing Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel, a 17.6-mile structure connecting the Norfolk/Virginia Beach areas to Virginia's eastern shore which first opened to traffic on April 15, 1964. When complete, the new tunnel will carry two lanes of traffic southbound and the existing tunnel will carry two lanes of traffic northbound.
It currently includes more than 12 miles of low-level trestle in each direction, two one-mile tunnels each running beneath a shipping channel, two bridges, almost two miles of causeway, four manmade islands and over five miles of approach roads, totaling 23 miles. Because of its proximity to the shore, peak travel season occurs during the summer months (May 15 to September 15) with a significant portion of this traffic occurring on weekends.
The new loan, with a lower interest rate will generate savings of approximately $57 million over the life of the loan which will help to: 1) mitigate the reduction in toll revenues that occurred as result of the pandemic, and 2) reinstate a capital expenditure program and routine rehabilitation projects that were postponed in response to the downturn in revenues.
The Project addresses numerous DOT policy priorities such as improving safety and supporting economic growth and will provide essential redundancy for Navy access to its bases in Norfolk and at Naval Air Station Oceana in the event that one of the Thimble Shoal tunnels is damaged or impassable. The CBBT carries US 13, the main north-south highway on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and provides the only direct link between Virginia’s Eastern Shore and south Hampton Roads, Virginia.
Demonstrative Video: To learn more about tunnel boring machines and to view a demonstrative video, click here.