Open symbolOpen

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel: A Road Trip That's a Destination In and Of Itself

Some road trips just capture the American love of driving: the Ocean Highway to Key West in Florida, the Pacific Coast Highway in California, Route 66 that jogs across the central U.S. Each drive gives you a unique view of the geography, flora, and fauna that define its region, and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge – Tunnel (CBBT) is no exception.

Though perhaps less widely known than its counterparts, the CBBT offers a chance to drive over (and under!) the Chesapeake Bay, island-hopping along the edge of the Atlantic.

Breathtaking views

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge -Tunnel carries you 30 feet above water, so there’s a good chance you’ll catch a glimpse of seagulls, pelicans, ducks, and maybe even a dolphin or two off in the distance. If sunrises or sunsets are your thing, you’ll get some amazing views of both if you travel at the right time of day.

On the southern tip of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, you will find a scenic overlook where you can stop to wait for the perfect pic, stretch your legs, or simply enjoy the fresh air and the expansive views of the Chesapeake Bay with this engineering marvel in the background. It’s a great place for birdwatching, too. Since the bridge-tunnel is located along the migratory bird path, its structures offer an inviting rest stop for a variety of species.

Unprecedented engineering

The CBBT, officially known as the Lucius J. Kellam, Jr. Bridge-Tunnel, opened to traffic on April 15, 1964 and since then has welcomed more than 157 million vehicles. Within a year of its opening, the bridge-tunnel had earned the American Society of Civil Engineers Outstanding Engineering Achievement Award and was named one of the “seven engineering wonders of the modern world.”

As the engineering marvel celebrates the 60th anniversary of its opening in 2024, it remains a testament to its structural integrity and staying power. Aside from being a scenic shortcut, its construction and configuration attract visitors who want to experience this epic drive over and under the sea.

Fun fact: Despite its innovative engineering and time-saving route, no local, state or federal tax money was used in the original $200 million construction of the project. Instead, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel District sold revenue bonds to private investors to cover the expense.

A scenic shortcut

At 23 miles in total length, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel saves 90 miles or more for travelers coming and going to Virginia Beach and beyond from points north of Wilmington, Delaware. A complete crossing takes about 25 minutes, replacing an 85-minute ferry ride (on a good weather day!) which stopped operation when the CBBT opened in 1964.

Perhaps best of all, the drive itself is different every time you cross the bridge-tunnel. Weather, time of day, and even time of year will impact the wildlife, water, and light you see. With so many birds, sea creatures, ships and even submarines to spot along the way, the drive won’t just be faster… it’ll feel faster, too. Plus, there are no stop signs, no intersections, and no traffic lights to slow you down or detract from the majesty of sparkling waters kissed by the sun’s varying hues.

Make the CBBT part of your next road trip

If your next family road trip takes you along the Eastern Seaboard – or if you agree the Chesapeake Bay Bridge -Tunnel is worth the trip all on its own – click here for more information about seasonal tolls, traffic, and weather conditions. You’ll also find suggestions for other things to do, plus places to eat and stay while you’re in the area. The CBBT is so much more than the journey to a new place—it’s an expertly designed destination all its own.

Explore Careers

We employ dedicated people who meet the challenge of customer service.

Employment Opportunities