Just in time for expected record Easter Sunday crowds, the highly anticipated Put-in-Bay Tunnel will open for traffic on Sunday, April 1st at 6:00 am. The 15 million dollar 4-year Put-in-Bay Tunnel project is expected to accommodate over 125,000 cars each of the peak summer months of the Lake Erie Islands tourist season. Equally as important, the tunnel will connect the island to the mainland year round eliminating the need to be dependent upon air transportation when winds and weather prevent the Put-in-Bay Ferry from operating.
The project, however, was not without its share of controversy. Opponents of the Put-in-Bay Tunnel demanded substantial engineering studies be performed after concerns were voiced that the additional large number of vehicles on the island for events may cause the island to sink lower into Lake Erie. After record, high water levels in 2017 caused flooding, and engineers determined that the island could support as many as 1500 additional vehicles safely. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources became involved after it was discovered the path of the Put-in-Bay Tunnel traversed a den of endangered Lake Erie Water Snakes which ultimately had to be relocated at considerable expense and construction delays.
Local Put-in-Bay law enforcement officials expressed concerns that tourists may try to access the tunnel after a night of drinking in the famed local Put-in-Bay Bars. Ohio Department of Transportation officials were quick to react announcing the installation of electronic breathalyzers at the entrance to the Put-in-Bay Tunnel. The operator of the vehicle seeking to access the tunnel must blow into one of three machines to demonstrate sobriety before the automated gates at the tunnel entrance will permit a vehicle to enter. Village Planning Commision members were concerned that parking would be an issue with the newly constructed tunnel and will be opening the new Put-in-Bay Parking Garage in Mid May. The garage will accommodate up to 560 vehicles and is located just two blocks from the main strip next to the Bay Lodging Resort. Revenues from the $5.00 per day parking fees are expected to offset the construction expense of the parking garage.
The cost of accessing the tunnel will be $6.00 for 2 axle vehicles and $13.00 for Semi Truck Multi Axel vehicles. Motorcycles are $3.00 Island residents will receive free access to the Put-in-Bay Tunnel and must display the annual sticker which is embedded with a transponder chip. Put-in-Bay residents must have their vehicles inspected at the Put-in-Bay Hardware Store located on Langram Road next to the post office and upon inspection and proof island residency, will be issued a resident sticker exempting them from the Put-in-Bay Tunnel fees.
Drivers are reminded that headlights are required to be on at all times while in the Put-in-Bay Tunnel and the speed limit is 35 MPH and photo radar enforced.