New bay bridge-tunnel boring machine has been named Chessie

The boring machine that will help expand Virginia's bridge and tunnel at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay has been named Chessie, after the bay's fabled sea monster.

The legend of Chessie is more than 80 years old, with reported "sightings" of the snakelike creature picking up in the 1980s.

The Virginian-Pilot reported Thursday that the name was chosen from an online contest. It was submitted by Grace Bentley of Nandua Middle School in Onley on Virginia's Eastern Shore.

The bridge and tunnel connects Virginia's Hampton Roads region with the Eastern Shore. The machine will start digging a mile-long hole under the bay next year.

Such machines often have female names. The tradition began when miners prayed to Barbara, the patron saint of mines, to protect them.

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Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, http://pilotonline.com