CAPE CHARLES, VA – The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (“CBBT”) and its partners on the Parallel Thimble Shoal Tunnel Project are excited to announce the winning name for the tunnel boring machine: CHESSIE!

The winning entry was submitted by Grace Bentley of Nandua Middle School, located in Onley, VA.

According to the video entry, “Chessie” was a natural choice, founded on the legend of the sea monster who lives deep within the Chesapeake Bay.  Sailors who have spotted this creature describe Chessie as a long, snake-like creature, so it is analogous to the 325-foot long TBM that will dig its way through the Bay bottom.  The name has remained popular in the Chesapeake Bay region over the years and personifies many things, including boats, trains, trails and animals.

The winning name will be displayed on the side of the TBM during the launching ceremony which is anticipated to take place in 2019.

In late March, a Review Committee selected the Top 10 names from more than 120 entries received from 6th grade students from Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Hampton, Newport News and the Eastern Shore.    The Review Committee was comprised of representatives from the Project partners: Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Commission; Chesapeake Tunnel Joint Venture; Jacobs; Mott MacDonald; HNTB; and Women’s Transportation Seminar, Hampton Roads Chapter.

On-line voting began Monday, April 2 and ran through Friday, April 13 at 4:30 pm EST.  The top 10 essays and video as presented by the 6th grade students were made available on the CBBT’s website and the public was invited to vote for their favorite entry.

Naming a tunnel boring machine (TBM) with a female name dates back to early mining traditions, when miners looked to Saint Barbara to protect them as they worked underground.   The naming of the machine in advance of it beginning to work is a sign of good luck for the project ahead.

Second place winner was BESSY the Boring Bufflehead, submitted by Caleb McIntyre of Broadwater Academy and third place winner was MS. TAYLOR, submitted by Shania Finley of Kiptopeke Elementary School.

Each of the winning submissions are available for public view at

“Every student who participated in this naming contest is to be commended, as their entries expressed a lot of thought and creativity,” stated Jeff Holland, Executive Director for the CBBT.  “The Commission extends congratulations to the winners and we appreciate the excellent effort invested by all students to take part in this unique opportunity.  We look forward to the students, teachers, and their classes continuing to follow the progress of this tunnel project until it is completed.”

About the Parallel Thimble Shoal Tunnel Project:

The massive TBM, currently being manufactured in Germany by Herrenknecht, at 42 feet in diameter and over 325 feet long, will excavate a one mile long, $756 million tunnel under Thimble Shoal Channel in the Chesapeake Bay.  The new bored tunnel will run parallel to the CBBT’s existing tunnel that carries more than 4 million vehicles each year under the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.  The new tunnel will carry two lanes of southbound traffic while the existing tunnel will carry two lanes of northbound traffic.  Upon completion, it will become the first transportation tunnel constructed by a TBM in the Hampton Roads area.