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HRBT History

Construction photos of the original Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, which opened Nov. 1, 1957. Click on each image, and again in the new window that opens, to enlarge the photos and read their captions.

Trestle Construction

The trestle, or bridge, section of the HRBT comprises the longest portion of the span. The entire length of the crossing, including the islands and tunnels, is 3.5 miles.

The trestle portion of the HRBT before the roadway slabs were installed during construction. The entire crossing is 3.5 miles long.The trestle portion of the HRBT before the roadway slabs were installed during construction.

Island Construction

The islands were built to provide a transition from the trestle to the tunnel. At the time of its construction, the HRBT was the world’s longest immersed-tube tunnel and the first one constructed between two artificial islands. Tunnels between man-made islands are still uncommon worldwide, and Hampton Roads has three of them.

A view of the south island as construction progressed, with historic Fort Wool visible at far right.

Tunnel construction

The tunnel was laid in 23 segments and welded together to form more than a mile of continuous steel tube. These segments were laid in a trench dug into the floor of the Hampton Roads harbor.