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Traveling Delmarva peninsula
By: Zdenko Kahlina
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
After a good night sleep in Virginia City, plan for today was to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT), which connects the northern tip of Virginia to the southern tip of Maryland.
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
The 17-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel crosses the mouth of the Bay from Virginia Beach to the southern tip of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. It’s a very long bridge and, of course, there’s that moment when you seem to be on the verge of driving off the bridge into the bay. It does offer fantastic views of the bay from a rest stop halfway across, and the drive up North Rt. 13 does effectively skip the monstrous DC traffic patterns.
The CBBT is 17.6 miles across from land to land and connects Virginia’s Eastern Shore with the Virginia mainland at Virginia Beach near Norfolk. It includes two high level bridges and two 1 mile long tunnels under water. Since it’s opening the bridge has seen over 100 million vehicles. Upon it’s opening it was listed as one of the “Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World” by the “American Society of Civil Engineers”. It is not the longest bridge but it does incorporate many different types of structures, including trestles, tunnels, artificial islands, bridges, causeway and approach roads.
Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel (CBBT)
Construction began on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel (CBBT) in late 1960 and concluded in early 1964, after 42 months of construction. The initial building of the CBBT cost $200 million at that time it only had two lanes. In April of 1999 the addition of two more lanes were completed at the cost of $197 million. The additional lanes created the ability to have two lanes going in each direction in all areas of the bridge. The tunnel however remains only two lanes, one in each direction. No taxes were used to build the bridge/tunnel or it’s addition. All costs are paid for by the toll collected from all vehicles who travel this bridge. In 1964 the toll cost was $4.00 per car plus 85 cents per passenger over the age of 6. Today the current cost is $12.00, and $5 for a return trip within 24 hours.
On the southern side of the bridge there is Sea Gull Island which offers fishing and eating, however the turn off for it does sneak up on travelers. On the north side when you are on land there is a scenic pull off that offers a view of the Chesapeake Bay. The whole drive offers views of the open ocean and ships to the east, the Chesapeake Bay to the west and due to curves in the bridge often various sights of the bridge itself.
Typical colonial house
Once you’re on the peninsula, it’s easy to get around. Route 13 is the major north – south highway. But plan to get off the highway – the best of the region is definitely on the back roads. The terrain is pancake flat, so bring a bicycle and pedal for a while. Unfortunately we didn’t have our bikes this time.
The region is characterized by tiny historic towns, meandering creeks, beautiful natural areas, crabs and clams. We wanted to drive thru some nice little Chesapeake towns like Salisbury, Cambridge and Easton. First town on our route was Salisbury. This is where we decided to stop, look around and have lunch.
Salisbury is the largest city on the eastern shore of Maryland. It was founded in 1732 and officially incorporated in 1854. It is the county seat of Wicomico County, which was established in 1867 and carved out of Worcester and Somerset Counties. It was named after Wicomico River. Wicomico is a Native American word, meaning “a place where houses are built”.
Salisbury today is the largest city on the Eastern Shore and the second largest port in the state. A significant part of the city’s economic sustenance still is derived from the port – major chicken processor headquartered in Salisbury, for example, not only provides jobs in the area but also imports feed grain through the port.
While the population of the city and county is approximately 80,000, a population of several hundred thousand in the greater Salisbury/Wicomico area looks to the city for retail, professional, medical, and cultural services. Salisbury is the home of Salisbury State University and the Peninsula Regional Medical Center, which serves the peninsula southward to Cape Charles, Virginia.
Salisbury Park, located in the heart of the city, was developed as a work project during the Great Depression. Adjacent to the park is the Salisbury Zoological Park, which is recognized as one of the best small zoos in America. We finally stopped at the Brew River restaurant which is overlooking the Port of Salisbury Marina and the Wicomico River. Food was all made with mayonnaise… lots of it. We didn’t like it.
Brew River restaurant where we had lunch and food wasn’t all that good
The traffic on Northbound Route 50 is not speedy. It’s two-lanes in each direction, with a largely 50 mph speed limit, and many speed traps. After we left Salisbury on Route 50, we noticed lots of fruit stands by the road, so we stopped at one to get some fresh fruits.
Farm market by the road
Fresh fruit was appealing and we bought some…
I can’t say much about Cambridge and Easton towns because we never stopped there. By the time we reached Easton, traffic was again intense and we began to wonder how long will be the queue for crossing the Chesapeake Bay bridge.
Traffic congestion… again!
At the end of our journey through Virginia and Delmarva Peninsula (Maryland), and just before we would return to the capital city of Washington, we had to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (commonly known as the Bay Bridge).
But again, just like when we were leaving Washington city, the road was congested with the travelers, this time people returning home on Sunday afternoon, before going back to work on Monday.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge is a major dual-span bridge in the U.S. state of Maryland. Spanning the Chesapeake Bay, it connects the state’s rural Eastern Shore region with the more urban Western Shore.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge is a major dual-span bridge
The original span opened in 1952 and at the time, with a length of 4.3 miles (7 km), was the world’s longest continuous over-water steel structure. The parallel span was added in 1973. The bridge is officially named the William Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial Bridge after William Preston Lane, Jr. who, as governor of Maryland, initiated its construction. The bridge is part of U.S. Routes 50 and 301, and serves as a vital link in both routes. As part of U.S. Route 50, it connects the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area with tourist destinations such as Ocean City, Maryland, Delaware’s ocean resorts, Assateague Island, and Chincoteague, Virginia. As part of U.S. Route 301, it serves as part of an alternate route for Interstate 95 travelers between northern Delaware and the Washington, D.C. area.
Because of this linkage, the bridge is heavily traveled and has become known as a point of traffic congestion, particularly during peak hours.
Sure enough, it was pretty much backed up from the Wye Mills which is about 25 km from the Bay Bridge. We couldn’t avoid to be there at the worst possible time – Sunday afternoon, when Washingtonians and Baltimore-area residents were returning to their homes.
On the bridge traffic congestion was high
If you’re doing the same route, have fun! It’s an interesting stretch of the world, with a lot of history. All those world-class golf courses in one area, then other areas with back roads that are just endless miles of tobacco fields and drying sheds, or the fruit fields on peninsula, where you feel like you might have fallen out into the 19th century.
The good thing was that nobody ever stopped us to pay for crossing the bridge, so we only paid once today, when going across the CBBT. Soon after the bridge, we took exit to Annapolis, as we still had couple of hours of daylight left to visit this historical city. But this will be another blog…
Our route through Virginia and Maryland