The Washburn Tunnel is a two lane underwater roadway connecting Galena Park and Pasadena. Named after Harris County Auditor Harry L. Washburn, the tunnel opened in 1950. It is the south's largest and first toll-free vehicular tunnel. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.
Located under the Houston Ship Channel in east Harris County, the tunnel is 2,936 feet (about ½ mile) long with a 6% grade. The total width of the roadway is 22 feet with each lane being 10 feet wide.
Tunnel Operating Hours
24 hours, 7 days a week
except for cleaning and maintenance hours
Tunnel Cleaning and Maintenance Hours
Every Thursday night from midnight to 4 a.m. on Friday
second Saturday of each month from 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. Sunday
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- No Pedestrians / Bicycles
- No vehicles with more than 2 axles
- No vehicles pulling a trailer with more than 2 axles
- No 18-wheelers or tanker trucks
- No vehicles carrying a tank or closed drum
- All passenger vehicles, pickup trucks, and SUVs
- All pick-up trucks with tandem wheels
- All 2 axle cargo vans lower than 12 feet in height
- All 2 axle school buses
- All 2 axle vehicles with tandem wheels in the back
35 MPH Speed LimitNo PassingNo HornsNo Bright LightsNo TailgatingNo Cell Phone / Texting while drivingNever exit the vehicle unless life threaten emergencyIn the case of a stall, please stay inside vehicle
Named after Harris County Auditor, Harry L. Washburn, The Washburn Tunnel began construction in 1948 and was opened in May of 1950.
Feat of Engineering
Engineering was completed by Merritt-Chapman and Scott Corporation of New York, who also managed construction of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, Walt Whitman Bridge and the Mackinac Bridge.
The total cost was $7,683,915 in 1950, adjusted for inflation would be over $76 million dollars today.
Major operations were required to construct the Tunnel. A trench to accommodate each 90 ft. x 40 ft. section had to be dug. Then the large cement sections were floated down the channel to be locked into position 85 feet below the Ship Channel.
The Washburn Tunnel was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 16, 2008.