- Associated Press - Thursday, July 28, 2016

CAPE CHARLES, Va. (AP) - A pier that’s a hot spot for fishermen and tourists visiting Hampton Roads will be closed for several years so that a new tunnel can be built.

Construction of the new parallel tunnel at the Thimble Shoals Channel, one of two tunnels that make up the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel crossing, will begin Oct. 1, 2017, media outlets reported.

On Wednesday, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel Commission awarded the Dragados Team a $755 million contract for the project, which is expected to take nearly five years.

The Sea Gull Fishing Pier, which nearly 15,000 people visit per year, will be closed and undergo renovations. The pier is notable because it’s on an island more than 3 miles into the Chesapeake Bay, a hard-to-reach spot for those without a boat. It opened in 1964.

While the pier will be reopening when the project is completed, the causeway’s gift shop and longtime restaurant must be torn down and closed, officials said. The restaurant was known for about 30 years as the Sea Gull before becoming the Chesapeake Grill in 2010.

Once complete, the new tunnel will carry two lanes of traffic southbound. The project will be funded through toll revenues, bonds, and a federal loan, officials said.

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