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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mountain Tunnel

There are two awesome tunnels that we go through by going down 77. 

This is The East River Mountain Tunnel 

We headed into it from the north, going south on our way to Florida!

 It is 5,412 feet in length (or 1,649 meters for my Canadian and European readers.) 
 It goes through and under the East River Mountain between the communities of Bluefield, West Virginia and Rocky Gap, Virginia. It is Interstate Highway 77 and US 52 .
 The tunnel is 1,077 feet below the mountain top!

OOOh! We enter the mouth of the giant! And no... You can't see the end from the entrance!

It's always so spooky when some of the interior lights are burnt out.

Yes... This is this color inside!

The rock that is the bed of this highway was formed between 265 to 300 million years ago. 
The engineers had to cut through 12 different layers of rock.

 Also, when you're inside the tunnel you are surrounded by 5,600 tons of concrete and they used 313,000 square feet of ceramic tiles.

This puppy cost $40 million and (at the time,) was the most expensive construction project undertaken by the West Virginia Division of Highway. 

It took five years to complete and the workmen worked six days a week, eight hours a day.  It was a union job.

The Engineer was Michael Baker of Pittsburgh and Ball and Healey as construction Contractors. Truman Corporations was responsible for electricity work. Court Construction built the buildings on each side at the openings.

The tunnel is reinforced with concrete. Behind the walls of the tunnel are steel supports, concrete, steel arches and the rock mountain. 

Approximately 30,000 feet of lumber was used to support the tunnel.

The ventilation system, consists of exhaust and clean air fans and the electrical systems are above the ceiling of the tunnel. There are 24 fans in the tunnel consisting of the 12 exhaust fans and 12 fresh air fans. The fans can totally change the air in the tunnel in 2 minutes. The Temperature in the tunnel is about the same as it is outside due to the ventilation fans.

At the time it was built it was the seventh longest tunnel in the U.S.

Groundbreaking began on the tunnel on August 12, 1969 and it was opened to the public at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on December 20, 1974 with Governor Mills Godwin of Virginia and Governor Aaron Moore of West Virginia.

Because the northern end of the tunnel is in West Virginia, and the southern end is in Virginia, both states shared in covering the cost of the project. The state line falls almost exactly across the midpoint of the tunnel, with 51% of the tunnel residing in West Virginia and the remaining 49% on the Virginia side.

Before the cut this tunnel through, to get over the mountain, you had to drive up and over a narrow, treacherous road that could turn out to be be closed due to fog or snow. I understand however, it was quite a pretty drive, with a gift shop at the very top.

See the truck way up in front of us? You can just barely make out a glimmer of the opening?

Much more light now... 
This is where you can truly understand the saying:
                    "There's light at the end of the tunnel?"

After all that dull yellow, the sunlight is blinding!

Yaay! Virginia!

The tunnel is located about 20 miles (32 km) north of its shorter cousin, the Big Walker Mountain Tunnel which we also drive through, but after this long one it pales in comparison.

When both tunnels opened, they allowed you to make lane changes, but in 2009, that was stopped and a single solid line was painted down the middle.
Trust me! Having driven through both, the world just sort of stops until you get out the other side! I can't imagine actually passing someone while you're inside!

We both love the next bend in the road and the next adventure!
I hope you've enjoyed ridin' along!

All of these photos were again shot and loaded directly from my Nikon P90 and then posted without alteration of any kind.


ethelmaepotter! said...

Amazing! I've never been in a tunnel like that - enjoyed my trip through it with you!

Bogaman said...

I'm getting chlostraphobic just looking at the pictures;) X.

DJan said...

I have never driven through that tunnel before, so now I can say I have, compliments of Lucy! I am enjoying our road trip.