|Unique Bridge-and-Tunnel Expressway Across
Trans-Tokyo Bay Motorway named the Tokyo Bay Aqualine, a toll highway that spans the narrowest gap of Tokyo Bay, opened to traffic in December 1997 after 31 years of studies and construction at the total cost of 1.44 trillion yen (11,077 million dollars; $1=\130). The 15-kilometer (9.3-mile) expressway, connecting Kisarazu City of Chiba Prefecture and Kawasaki City of Kanagawa Prefecture, makes it possible to take a round of the bay by car. Of the total length, 4.4 kilometers (2.7 miles) from the Kisarazu side is a bridge and 9.5 kilometers (5.9 miles) from the Kawasaki side is an undersea tunnel, which is the world's longest undersea tunnel, running 60 meters (197 feet) deep under the surface of the water.
Before the completion of the Aqualine, transportation between Kisarazu City and Kawasaki City required driving 100 kilometers (62.1 miles) along the coastline of Tokyo Bay or taking a one-hour ferry. Now the Aqualine connects the two cities in about 15 minutes, and its opening will drastically change the flows of goods and people, including tourists, in the Metropolitan area.
Created on the artificial island that connects the bridge and tunnel portions, Umi-hotaru is a parking and rest area which was designed as a tourist attraction jutting out from the waters of Tokyo Bay.
Photos: (From top) the expressway on the Kisarazu side (Japan Highway Public Corporation); Bridge girders on the Kisarazu side (Chiba Prefecture); Umi-hotaru (Japan Highway Public Corporation).
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