We had to go to Rochester, Minnesota to get to the Mayo Clinic, and we brought my 2-year-old niece with us. Since she and I are not the patients, I’ve been taking her in her stroller to explore the subway when she gets restless. It’s an underground walkway that connects the nearby buildings. They even have a skyway to connect the buildings from above, but as of writing this, I haven’t explored that and I’m not fully sure that I can. Since I have explored the subway, I can talk about the stuff that my niece and I have seen there.
This is one of the subway entrances from the Gonda building as seen below.
If you notice the wavy walls in the subway tunnel in the above image, the images below show a photo mural on the wavy walls.
This hall with the wavy walls leads you to the Damon parking ramp. From there, you can take a right to go to other places.
This colorful hallway is one that you encounter when you go down the photo mural hallway from the Gonda building, then turn right. The end of this hallway can go three ways. Let’s start with what’s straight ahead.
I never went past the sliding door here since I’m not a guest at this hotel. As you can probably see in the hallway here, the floors in the subway are not flat. They slope up and down as they need to. Now to turn left.
The very end of this long hallway is the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center. There is a hallway that leads to the St John’s Catholic Church, and there’s also one that leads to the Marriott Residence Inn. Near the Healthy Living Center is the West Employee Parking Ramp.
Near the Healthy Living Center, I took a photo of the subway map. The Gonda and Mayo buildings are toward the center of the campus. The subway paths appears especially wide in or near the Gonda and Mayo buildings. Between the Mayo and Siebens buildings is the campus cafeteria. In addition to the cafeteria, some of these larger passageways have shops in them. Like the Mayo Clinic Store.
I have to admit that I was excited to see the Mayo Clinic selling Vogmasks because I love my Vogmasks, even though I left mine at home. The Mayo Clinic Store in the Siebens building subway has assistive devices like some wheelchairs, walkers and rollators, canes, among other things. But since I didn’t go inside because I had my niece in a jogging stroller, I don’t know what all the store sells. And near the store was a spa that offered acupuncture, ear candling, cupping therapy, among other things.
Now to the Graham Parking Ramp, and this was taken on the way back from there.
When I took this walk to and from the Graham Parking Ramp, I didn’t realize there was a direct hallway between the Gonda building and the Charlton building. So going to and from, I took the path that took me by the Damon Parking Ramp.
I thought these passageways were cool, and they’re a great way to occupy my niece or soothe her to sleep when she is being restless. Of course, all of this walking has me sore.
(Disclaimer: All of these images are taken from search engines and MapQuest screenshots. I do not own them!)
Because we have THREE of them! Three in the same region, at that!
There’s so much water within the area. The wide-mouthed James River meets the Chesapeake Bay, and then the James River is fed by smaller rivers, such as the Elizabeth River, which separates the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth (all cities in the state of Virginia are independent cities, therefore not a part of any county.) And the geography means that we have a heavy use of ships here, for naval purposes as well. I mean what wouldn’t people do for their ships? 😉
Hampton Roads Beltway
Let’s start with the Hampton Roads Beltway, which is made up of I-64 and I-664.
This is how the Hampton Road Beltway works; it starts as I-64 goes east into Hampton and goes to the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel at Fort Monroe. It enters Norfolk at Willoughby Spit, a narrow tract of land that extends out into the water at Willoughby Bay. As I-64 East goes south from the spit, it goes near Naval Station Norfolk and the base as a whole; therefore I-564 marked in purple branches off for commute to the base. As I-64 east continues, it passes Norfolk International airport and gives way for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, marked in yellow. In orange is I-264, which serves the downtown Norfolk and Portsmouth going westbound, and its eastbound serves Virginia Beach in a straight-shot route to the tourist-bound beach. It cuts across the Beltway, creating a smaller belt within. The blue line connecting I-264 and I-64 is I-464, which serves a northern community in Chesapeake known as South Norfolk. This interstate ends at the I-64 interchange and becomes a state route 168. Following the I-64/ I-464/VA-168 interchange, I-64 east continues westward and becomes I-664 North when both sides meet the western end of I-264. From here on, the Hampton Roads Beltway continues north as I-664. Here, the Beltway serves the Western Branch community of Chesapeake, as well as Suffolk before it crosses the James River as the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel. On the Newport News end of the MMMBT, it continues on to meet back up with I-64 on the peninsula. This being said, please note that on the south side, I-64 east will be traveling west, while I-64 west will be traveling east.
Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel
So the oldest bridge-tunnel in the area is the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. It’s very well-known in the area, mostly for its traffic though. It opened 01 November 1957 to connect the peninsula by the city of Hampton to the south side by the city of Norfolk. However, very little, if any, of the bridge-tunnel is actually within Norfolk’s city limits. This bridge-tunnel is an eastern portion of the Hampton Roads Beltway, carrying I-64 across the James River.
Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel
So this image below is of the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-tunnel, connecting the city of Suffolk, on the south end to Newport News on the peninsula to the north. The bridge-tunnel is a part of Interstate 664 (I-664), and completes the Hampton Roads Beltway on I-64. It opened 30 April 1992 in the hopes of reducing the strain on the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. However, both bridge-tunnels end up suffering in high traffic time.
Its name is given to honor the iron ships that battled in within a mile of the modern bridge-tunnel during the American Civil War’s Battle of Hampton Roads. The basic history of the battle goes as follows. Monitor was a Union ship, as was the Merrimack. However, the USS Merrimack was burned but the Union Navy, then taken by the Confederate States and reconstructed as the iron ship CSS Virginia. The Virginia suffered an explosion off Craney island in Norfolk, while the Monitor later shipwrecked off the Outer Banks of North Carolina. While no side technically won the battle, the significance of this battle was that it was the first battle to use iron ships.
Depending on the time of day, one or both of the tunnels at once will see heavy traffic. But given the HRBT’s proximity to Naval Station Norfolk, the odds aren’t exactly in favor that the HRBT will be the preferred route. But rest-assured, the Monitor-Merrimac may experience high traffic, likely resulting from an accident in the tunnel. In recent years, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) put out signs giving estimated time comparisons before highway interchanges in order for the driver to make a better informed decision on which route to take, but not only for the tunnels.
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel below was the second of the three to open 15 April 1964. This bridge-tunnel isn’t like the others. It connects the south side by way of Virginia Beach (independent city) to Virginia’s Eastern Shore by way of Cape Charles in Northampton County. It also runs a police division that is independent of both Virginia Beach and Northampton County. This is the only bridge-tunnel of the three that is not maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT.) It’s maintained independently by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel Commission. Unlike the other two, this bridge-tunnel has tolls.
Taking the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel from Virginia Beach
From Interstate 64, you take Northampton Boulevard to get to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. On Northampton, there is a Wawa gas station /convenience store where you can fill up on gas. Afterward, Northampton Boulevard will take you straight to the bridge. After paying the toll, you start on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel’s Northbound lanes. The first tunnel to encounter this way is the Thimble Shoal Channel Tunnel. There is a restaurant and gift shop on the southernmost man-made island as well before you enter the Thimble Shoal Channel Tunnel. There is also a fishing pier with information here. The second tunnel (north) to encounter is the Chesapeake Channel Tunnel. Further along, the bridge will rise, and when you first find yourself on land. This portion is only Fisherman’s Island, which is a national wildlife refuge. Just once more over water, and you will finally arrive on the Eastern Shore.
The toll rates for the CBBT are currently $15 during peak season for class 1 vehicles, and $13 during off-peak. The CBBT offers discounts for return trips within 24 hours of the first trip, at $3 during peak season, and $5 during off peak season. E-Z Pass is accepted by the CBBT, and only through that can discounts be processed. More information on the tolls can be found here, and for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel as a whole can be found here. They also have a Twitter account that tweets travel updates, if you wish to “follow the gulls.”
Some Scary Facts About The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
The goal of this portion is for you, the reader, to make a very careful decision on whether or not driving across the bridge-tunnel is ideal for you. That above image is of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, and it is a 17.6 mile (28.3 km) bridge over a wide portion of the bay. The water is very deep ranging from 25 to 100 feet (7.6 to 30.5 meters), and each tunnel is 1 lane on each side. This is a long, narrow bridge that is shared by tractor- trailers. Drivers, mostly tractor-trailers have gone overboard, unfortunately, which most likely results in a fatality. The bridge is both beautiful and terrifying, and you may need to make a thorough decision ahead of time on whether or not you can make this drive yourself.
The reason for mentioning this is that the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel has a driver’s assistance program if the driver has a phobia. Provided that the driver calls (757-331-2960) ahead of time to arrange for it first, it can be arranged for an employee to drive the personal car across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel as a way to prevent a potential incident resulting from the phobia. However, the employees aren’t hired exclusively for the driver assistance program. Unless you call in advance, the employees have other work to do.