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Tunnels, Houston

3.2
#63 of 134 in Things to do in Houston
The Washburn Tunnel is a two-lane underwater motor-vehicle tunnel connecting Galena Park and Pasadena, two suburbs of Houston, Texas. Completed in 1950, it travels north-south underneath the Houston Ship Channel. It was named after Harris County, Texas Auditor Harry L. Washburn. It is the largest and first toll-free vehicular tunnel in the Southern United States.OverviewMerritt Chapman and Scott Corporation of New York engineered the $7 million project. First, a trench 90x40 feet had to be dug. Second, these sections had to be locked into position 85 feet underwater. Finally, the last touches, such as tiling the inside, were completed.It is the only underwater vehicle tunnel currently in operation in the state, as the Baytown Tunnel was replaced in 1995 by a bridge. The tunnel consists of a single bore, 895 meters (2,909 feet) in length, with a six-percent roadway grade outward from the center towards each exit. Forced transverse ventilation is potentially provided by three automatic high-speed Westinghouse Sturtevant blower fans located in a tower at the north entrance. These fans are designed to keep the air free from high-levels of carbon monoxide.In the event of electrical failure, a generator can support the electrical needs of the tunnel. Every twelfth light is powered by a generator. The light intensity at the portals is three times brighter than the interior. This prevents temporary blindness when entering the tunnel.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
124 reviews
Google
4.2
TripAdvisor
  • August 8, 2017
    I used to work downtown and in the summertime only came up to catch my bus home. There's actually another city located underground in the tunnel system but you never feel like you're really in a basem...  more »
  • August 8, 2017
    To see it all is a long walk, not for persons with canes or walkers. Several places to eat down there.  more »
  • August 8, 2017
    I went on a city tour of Houston and barely saw any people. The tour guide mentioned that a lot of people were in the tunnels. The tunnel system intrigued me because I didn't see any entrances into tu...  more »
Google
  • December 29, 2016
    Lived in Houston all my life and today was the first I seen and drove thru it! Short but awesome!
  • March 16, 2017
    It's lasted far longer than it was designed to, and it just keeps on going. Glad it's there too!
  • August 13, 2016
    I've lived in this city my whole life and today was the FIRST time I've traveled through the tunnel. Worth the wait! 😊
  • August 9, 2016
    Very nice tunnel; it's well maintained and very efficient. Don't be talking on your phone while driving under because your connection will be cut off ;)
  • November 16, 2016
    If you're from Houston you know traffic can get bad on many different roads having the tunnel gives you another option to get around that traffic

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Where to stay in Houston

If you come to Houston to splurge while on holiday, book a luxurious room at a downtown hotel. This area is an ideal base for getting to know Houston, offering you a chance to stay within walking distance of one of the country's largest theater districts. Houston bills itself as the "Energy Capital of the World," so it's no surprise that it houses many "green" hotels, their garages designed to cater to electric vehicle owners. For something completely different, enjoy a Texas country experience at a working ranch outside the city limits.
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