VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Already behind schedule, the new tunnel expansion on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is now not expected to open for another five years.
The Eastern Shore Post reports the new parallel tunnel at Thimble Shoals won't be ready until January of 2027.
Work began on the project in 2017, and it was originally set to be completed last month. Then in 2020, the wrap-up date was pushed back to 2024, due in part to the granite boulders that were used to build the bridge-tunnel 60 years ago.
The project’s main contractors are using tunnel boring machines, but progress has been slowed down by those boulders. The boulders help to form four artificial islands that anchor the portals of the bridge-tunnel’s original two original tubes.
According to the Eastern Shore Post, additional year-long delays came as the contractor had to reapply for the federal marine life permit and was unable to complete concrete walls for the receiving and launching pit for the tunnel boring machine.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel connects Virginia Beach to Virginia’s Eastern Shore and is made up of two different, single-tube tunnel segments. The Thimble Shoals parallel tunnel will add a second tube for the tunnel closer to the Virginia Beach side.
Plans are in the works for adding another parallel tunnel to the tube closer to the Eastern Shore in the 2030s, but no construction work has yet begun on that project.
The new tunnel's cost is more than $750 million, which is being paid for by toll increases every five years.