Decision to close exit ramps during fireworks turns I-264 into a parking lot

Posted at 7:30 AM, Jul 05, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-05 22:12:25-04

Virginia Beach, Va. - I-264 turned into a parking lot last night after Virginia Beach police closed several eastbound exits, including Birdneck Road, at 8:45 pm as fireworks were about to start at the Oceanfront.

Virginia Beach police say they made the decision after determining that parking at the Oceanfront was at capacity and large numbers of additional vehicles were still attempting to access the Oceanfront, tying up eastbound I-264 traffic.

City police say they decided to implement a contingency plan to re-route the eastbound I264 traffic onto westbound I264  at Parks Avenue and asked the Virginia State Police and VDOT to assist in implementing the plan. They say their decision was based on the combined factors of substantial inbound Oceanfront traffic, the number of people (all oceanfront hotels were at or near full capacity), the number of vehicles currently at the Oceanfront, and the anticipated exodus of the crowds upon the completion of the fireworks display.

VDOT says city police requested assistance at 8:45pm closing the ramps on I-264 east to Birdneck & Parks Ave and I-264 west from First Colonial. VDOT also posted messages on overhead signs saying ‘Resort Area Closed’

Virginia State Police (VSP) say they were asked by Virginia Beach Police to assist with the closing of two ramps along 264 and reopened them later in the evening at the request of city police. According VSP, city police asked to reopen all ramps except Birdneck at approximately 11:59pm.

At approximately 12:11am Colonial reopened and at 12:43 am VSP opened the Birdneck ramp at the request of Virginia Beach Police and cleared their units from the scene.

Virginia State Police released the following statement:

Each year the Virginia State Police works with Virginia Beach Police to plan for potential safety and traffic issues related to the annual fireworks displays at the oceanfront. At the request of Virginia Beach Police, State Police assisted them with the closure of two ramps along I-264 and began to re-route traffic through the immediate area. This was done for the safety of all motorists - and the high volume of pedestrian traffic inside the city limits on the city streets (not interstate), to alleviate traffic congestion in the city and along the interstate, and to prevent traffic crashes from occurring.

Check back with NewsChannel 3 and for more on this developing story.