- Report Published -
|Future Capacity of the Existing Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel|
|Department of Transportation; Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel District|
|SJR 132 (1989)|
|As requested by Senate Joint Resolution No. 132, passed by the 1989 Gen~ral|
Assembly, the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and
Tunnel Commission have conducted a joint study of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and
Tunnel (CSS&T). This study addresses traffic congestion and safety problems,
maintenance, capacity of present facility, projected traffic volumes, recommended
improvements, and financial alternatives.
The annual average daily traffic on the CBB&T exceeds 7,000 vehicles, which
includes over 1,200 trucks using this facility every weekday. In the summer months the
volume exceeds 10,000 vehicles per day, of which over 50 percent is vacation and
The CBB&T is a "confined facility." For over 19 miles there are no shoulders,
passing is limited, and with the high volume of trucks and recreational vehicles,
congestion problems often occur. The number of hours that the traffic does not flow at
the acceptable standard for this type of facility has doubled since 1985 (275 to 620
As traffic volumes and congestion hove increased, so have accidents. Since 1985,
there has been a 61 percent increase in accidents, injuries have doubled, and fatalities
tripled. Coinciding with the increased accident rate on the CBS&T, the statewide rate
on other Virginia two-lane primary routes has decreased.
Maintenance needs on the CSS&T are increasing as the facility ages. There were
over 2,700 hours of lane closures last year for inspections and maintenance. Due to,
weather conditions on the Chesapeake Bay, major maintenance activities can only be
scheduled during certain months. These months are olso when traffic volumes are the
highest. This adds to the congestion, as well as presenting safety problems. Traffic must
be stopped and alternating northbound and southbound flows implemented because there
are no routes that can be used as detours.
Traffic on the CBB&T has increased at an annual rate of 3.5 percent since it
opened 25 years ago. After reviewing the traffic growth on the CBB&T, the 1980-1989
trend was selected to represent future growth. It is estimated that the annual average
daily traffic on the CBB&T will be 10, I00 vehicles by the year 2000. With seasonal
variations, the daily traffic is expected to average 13,700 during the late spring, summer,
and fall months. Along with this increase in traffic, more hours of congestion and an
increase in accidents can be expected. Major maintenance activities will also become
more difficult to perform as congestion is extended over a longer period of the day.
Based on the findings of this study, the conclusion is that an additional two lanes
will be needed on the CBS&T by the year 2000.
The cost to provide the two additional lanes for the entire facility, estimated at
$1.2 billion, is beyond the financial capabilities of the CSS&T. An analysis of the
revenues from tolls and other sources indicates that, with a one dollar average increase
in tolls, the two additional lanes can be financed for the trestle and bridge sections. The
cost estimated for this improvement is approximately $275 million.
It is recommended that two additional lanes on the trestle and bridge sections be
provided initially, and that the CSS&T continue to maintain two-way traffic in the
tunnels. The two tunnels needed to complete the four-Ioning of the CBB&T will have to
be provided in subsequent years.
Due to the time needed to perform studies and opply for the needed permits, it is
also recommended that work begin immediately on the indepth traffic, environmental
and financial studies, and development of specifications and plans.