EDITORIAL: No tunnel vision
A high-rise harbor bridge is a nonstarter, but it does start ideas
Consider the suggestion that a high-rise bridge might be the less-expensive alternative to adding lanes in an underwater tube at the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel.
But it helps move the focus of the regional transportation debate from defending the existing list of big-ticket projects to attempting to solve the region's most-congested traffic point. It helps break up the congested thinking that the HRBT doesn't make the cut to be on that $9 billion list.
Why not a bridge?
After all, it would be cheaper than a tunnel, and money is at the heart of the problem. What might be spent on making room for more traffic in the HRBT can't be spent to build a new highway spur to the port, or a speedier path for cars, subdivisions and shopping centers between Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.
Just think "Pearl Harbor."
The Navy has for decades opposed any prospect of a bridge that could be destroyed and dropped in the channel to block the path of aircraft carriers and other ships coming and going at the Norfolk Naval Base. It would bottle up the fleet, or keep ships from getting into shipyards for repair.
Commercial shipping interests also worry that a bridge would pose a height limit on cargo ships.
And a high-rise bridge would also require such extensive approaches and landings that it would remake those tips of Hampton and Norfolk beyond what people would tolerate.
And probably be ugly, to boot.
The case was considered when the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel was in the works, and finally built. And when the HRBT was last expanded. And when the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel was built and expanded.
That bridge is going nowhere.
But let's thank former VDOT Commissioner Philip Shucet for posing the option as lawmakers gathered to puzzle over the region's transportation problem. It may be a nonstarter itself, but it seems to have helped start some fresh thinking.