FreightWaves asked truckers on social media which tunnels in the U.S. and Canada wrack their nerves the most. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but these are some of the tunnels drivers mentioned in comments on the Women In Trucking, Rates & Lanes, and Rate Per Mile Masters Facebook pages.
Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (Virginia)
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel (CBBT) is a 17.6-mile bridge–tunnel that carries U.S. Highway 13 at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, the Hampton Roads harbor, and nearby mouths of the James and Elizabeth rivers in Virginia. As of January, the CBBT has had more than 140 million vehicle crossings, according to the CBBT website.
Mark Hawkins, an owner-operator, has hauled freight through this tunnel several times in a 53-foot trailer. With just one lane in each direction, each only 12 feet wide, the tunnel made Hawkins nervous, he acknowledged.
“The very first time I passed through I admit I white knuckled it,” Hawkins said. “My senses were on high alert, feeling terribly claustrophobic with absolutely no bailout position.”
However, Hawkins got over his fear the next time and says the CBBT is now one of his favored routes to and from the Hampton Roads communities.
Wind River Canyon Tunnels (Wyoming)
Drivers will find these three tunnels along U.S. Highway 20-State Route 789 in northwestern Wyoming, between the towns of Shoshoni and Thermopolis. The tunnels are bored through solid rock, and there’s a BNSF Railroad (NYSE: BRK.A) truss bridge that crosses the Wind River just below the nearby dam.
Sandi Oberhelman-Leidig with Double L Trux said these tunnels “have a slight curve in each one and they do not look like they fit a cow wagon! But they BARELY Do!”
Krista Lorraine, a driver for Crete, said, “In the nice weather there are a lot of motorcycles and RVs on that route. I always err on the side of caution and take those tunnels slow.”
Tetsuo Harano Tunnels (Hawaii)
The Tetsuo Harano Tunnels are a pair of highway tunnels passing through the Ko‘olau Range on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The tunnels are located on Interstate H-3, which connects part of Honolulu with Interstate H-1 near Pearl Harbor. The tunnels are each a little less than a mile long and are named for a former state highways administrator who served for 52 years.
Chad Boblett, administrator of the Rate Per Mile Masters Facebook page, said the H-3 tunnels themselves aren’t too frightening. It’s what drivers may find just as they enter or leave tunnels that could catch them off guard.
“Coming out of the tunnel can be scary when going from the leeward to the island’s windward side. Before entering the tunnel, the weather could be great, but you could experience hard rain, heavy blinding fog and severe winds when you exit the tunnel.”
Crowsnest Pass Tunnel (Canada)
Self-employed driver Kristyn Kelly said the tunnel on Crowsnest Pass on Highway 3 (Crowsnest Highway) in southwestern Canada can be a bit nerve-wracking. For truckers unfamiliar with it, Crowsnest Pass is a low mountain pass across the Continental Divide of the Canadian Rockies, located on the border of southwestern Alberta and southeastern British Columbia.
“There are many inexperienced truck drivers who think it’s a good idea to fly through that tunnel with complete disregard for oncoming traffic,” Kelly said. “Also, it’s not uncommon to find a group of bighorn sheep along that stretch just scattered all over the road.”
Between 1897 and 1898, the Canadian Pacific Railway (NYSE: CP) built its Crowsnest Route through Crowsnest Pass to access mineral-rich southeastern British Columbia via an all-Canadian rail route.
Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel (Colorado)
No drivers commented on this tunnel in the FreightWaves survey, but it’s still worth mentioning because of a couple of unique characteristics.
First, the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel — simply known as the Eisenhower Tunnel — is the highest vehicular tunnel in the United States, with an maximum elevation of 11,158 feet. Second, it’s the highest point on the interstate highway system. It carries Interstate 70 through the Continental Divide about 60 miles west of Denver and is named for two late politicians — U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Colorado governor Edwin C. Johnson.
The Eisenhower Tunnel is a popular shortcut that truckers take to avoid the twisty U.S. Highway 6 over Loveland Pass. However, this section of I-70 often shuts down for long periods of time during strong snowstorms.
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