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Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel restaurant to permanently close, pier to close for years

| pilotonline.com

The unique pit stop that is Island 1 on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel will dramatically change next year when construction of a new tube permanently closes the causeway's long-standing restaurant.

The entire island will close to drivers for nearly five years as a new parallel tunnel on the Thimble Shoals channel is added, starting Oct. 1, 2017. That means no access to the Sea Gull Fishing Pier, which will also be closed during the tunnel's construction.

For many visitors approaching from the north, the pull-off – complete with bird-watching, fishing, restrooms and food – was the first taste of Tidewater. Until a few years ago, travelers enjoyed the free drink coupons handed out at the toll booths. The gift shop once sold sparklers, smoke bombs and other fireworks.

Now, the construction will mean at least a temporary end to a wide variety of experiences for visitors and locals, including:

  • Watching Navy warships or container ships float through the channel.
  • Bird watching.
  • Twenty-five-cent looks at lighthouses through the silver viewfinders.
  • Fried flounder sandwiches and Old Bay-flavored chips at the Chesapeake Grill, and souvenirs from Virginia Originals gift shop and visitor's center.
  • Walking the pier or casting a line for bluefish and flounder – until 2022.

Nearly 15,000 people a year fish on the pier, which

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