Wilkes Street Tunnel re-opens Saturday


Completed in 1856, the Wilkes Street Tunnel is one of only two historic railroad structures currently in existence throughout the city. The tunnel was originally used by the Orange & Alexandria rail company as a route service and major connector between Washington D.C. and Richmond.  

This Saturday from 8:30 am to 9:30 am, the city is inviting residents attend a ribbon-cutting celebrating the rehabilitation of the tunnel, located at Wilkes and Royal Streets. “The event recognizes the citys commitment towards historic preservation and landmark recognition,” said Jennifer Harris, a city spokesperson. 

Structural refurbishment started in September, 2007 and was completed in March 2008.  The interior consists of dry-laid and grey sandstone vaulted walls.  Tunnel dimensions are approximately 170 feet long with exterior stone and brick surfaces.  The arch is approximately 15 feet wide and 17 feet tall and consists of grey sandstone masonry.

Repairs to the existing structure include fabrication and installation of 54 circumferential steel reinforcement ribs.  Electrical maintenance includes new cables, conduit controls, and 10 additional light fixtures.  Asphalt repairs were made to 800 square yards of the multi-use trail pavement area.  In addition, drainage improvements include the installation of a curb inlet, new curb, and extended gutter system.   

After a formal program, Mayor William D. Euille, local elected officials and members of the public are invited to gather in front of the tunnel entrance for a traditional ribbon cutting ceremony.