Which Bridge is Which?

Because I’ve seen several Facebooks posts recently about two bridges that can get confused with one another, I thought I’d nail it down especially for readers and travelers who aren’t familiar with the region.  Because if you don’t know the difference…. Well, you’ll see.

The first is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, referred to as the Bay Bridge.  That’s what we called it when we lived in Maryland.  When you “go down the ocean,” that’s Baltimore-speak for going to the beach on Maryland’s Eastern shore, you cross this 4-plus mile bridge over the Chesapeake Bay.  This bridge is located just east of Annapolis. I’ve been over it many times.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge by Gary Hymes from Baltimore, United States [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

But I don’t think I could cross this bridge today even as a passenger.  My least favorite part of the bridge (if I had to pick) is the curve at the very beginning as you head east.  I recall thinking you could go straight off into the water ahead if you missed the turn.  I believe It’s happened.  I’m reluctant to do the research on that, but feel free.

The second bridge is the Chesapeake-Bay Bridge Tunnel in Virginia where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean.  See what I mean about how it could be confusing which bridge is which.  This road crosses the Bay and it also goes under the Bay.  The entire length is 22 miles with the bridge and tunnel totaling just under 18 miles.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel By Ole Bendik Kvisberg (Flickr: Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

According the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) website, when it opened in 1964 this bridge/tunnel combo was one of The Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World.  I haven’t had the pleasure of going over and under this.  Tunnels aren’t a problem for me but of course I can’t go through the Lincoln Tunnel in NYC without thinking of Stephen King’s scene in The Stand.

Depending where you’re coming from and where you’re going to, the bridge you take is important.  In the map below, B is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and A is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and Chesapeake Bay Bridge Locations

There’s about 225 miles between the bridges taking a route on the western side of the Chesapeake Bay.  Also, did you notice  Washington, DC just west of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge?  Just north of Alexandria.  Maybe you’ve heard about all the traffic in that region?  Especially around rush hours?  If not, well, you don’t want to be in the middle of it.

So, if someone tells you to take the Chesapeake Bay Bridge or you hear something  similar, listen very carefully.   Or if you decide to put either bridge into your GPS, double-check you’ve selected the right one.  That one word… TUNNEL ….. can make all the difference in how long and fun your trip will be.