Are the tunnels ready for an emergency in Hampton Roads?

Posted at 11:43 PM, Sep 17, 2012
and last updated 2012-09-18 02:57:29-04

The tunnel traffic that plagues drivers going between the Peninsula and the Southside had many drivers frustrated over the weekend. 

"If this is what happens now when there really is nothing going on, in an emergency what would happen if there was a hurricane like a natural disaster? What would happen, and that would be a disaster," said Juana Cruz.

The James River Bridge and the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel eastbound were closed, making I-664 your only route. It caused five-hour back-ups. People stranded in their cars, not moving, with no hope in sight.

If a hurricane was coming, the governor could call for I-64 east to switch directions, giving double the lanes for drivers to get up to I-95.

"It makes me think like whoever is in charge is just not doing a good enough job," Cruz said. "Not for the number of people that live in this area."

On Monday VDOT said they underestimated the impact on drivers when they shut down two of the three ways from the Peninsula to the Southside.

The work on the JRB and HRBT that was supposed to happen this weekend has been put off. VDOT promises it will never close two of the three ways over the water at the same time again.

But the apology doesn't make drivers like Beitler feel any better about VDOT's abilities to manage the roadways, especially in an emergency when it matters most.

"If everyone's just traveling simultaneously, then they're just not going to be moving," Beitler said.