I-64 shut down for lane reversal drill

Posted at 5:46 PM, Jul 21, 2013

Hampton Roads, Va. – Early morning drivers heading East on Interstate 64 were detoured Sunday as emergency management crews shut down the eastbound lanes for a lane reversal test.

A 26 mile stretch of 64 East was closed for more than an hour as crews tested communication procedures and equipment at traffic control gates on exit ramps.

If a powerful hurricane hits Hampton Roads and a large evacuation is necessary, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) can close the eastbound lanes of 64 and reroute all traffic onto 64 West going the opposite direction.

Officials said the process makes it quicker to evacuate vehicles out of the Hampton Roads area and move emergency response crews in.  Lane reversal can only be ordered by the Governor.

“Thankfully, we’ve never had to do a large scale evacuation of Hampton Roads and reverse the lanes,” said Bob Spieldenner with the VDEM.  “We don’t have experience actually doing it, so practicing is one of the most important things we can do.

VDEM works with the Virginia State Police, VDOT, and the National Guard to facilitate the process.  Each agency was represented at Sunday morning’s drill.

Read more about the test at our sister station WTVR.