Walter C. Grantz, 88, an international expert in immersed-tube tunnel construction who most recently was lead engineering consultant for the 23-mile, $756-million Thimble Shoal Parallel Tunnel now being built between Virginia Beach, Va., and the Delmarva Peninsula, died on March 2 in that city. The cause of death was complications of multiple myeloma, says a family obituary.
Grantz was born in Argentina while his father, Walter A.H. Grantz, led construction of Line B of the Buenos Aires subway and was president of the Peru-based unit of contractor Frederick Snare Corp., which built piers and water supply systems in South America.
Walter C. Grantz had a four-decade engineering career with Parsons Brinckerhoff that involved bridge and tunnel projects that included the Portsmouth Marine Terminal, the original and second Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnels and the second James River Bridge, all in Virginia; as well as the I-95 Fort McHenry Tunnel in Baltimore and Boston’s Ted Williams Tunnel. He also contributed to both design and construction of the Marmaray, a rail tunnel under the Bosphorus in Turkey, finally completed in 2013.
Grantz served in the 1990s as chief engineer for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel District, leading construction of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel parallel crossing, completed in 1999.
In a 2015 local interview, he referred to the project as “the thrill of a lifetime,” adding that “crossing 15 miles of open water is no mean trick. What civil engineer would pass that up?”
An accomplished photographer, he shot thousands of project photos, including many from his Cessna 172 plane, for which he was an instrument rated pilot, says the family obituary. A life member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and active contributor to the International Tunneling and Underground Space Association, Grantz also was technical adviser for the children’s book “Dig a Tunnel.”
“Walter’s legacy is a passion for advancing the possibilities of creating fixed links across waterways and to ensuring knowledge sharing without barriers,” said Shani Wallis, editor of industry publication TunnelTalk. “The legacy lives on through all who knew and shared his enthusiasm for national and international connectivity.”