Weekend closures at Downtown Tunnel could cause issues for vets going to Naval Medical Center

Posted at 6:53 PM, Aug 06, 2013

Portsmouth, Va. - The Downtown Tunnel is the most direct route to Portsmouth Naval Medical Center, but big closures are coming and that has a retired Navy commander worried.

“If I don't know where I'm going, if I haven't mapped it out and when you're sick and you need the emergency room of if it’s one of my family members that needs the emergency room, it's not the time to be figuring out which way to go,” says Bob Strait.

Starting this weekend and every weekend until next spring, the Downtown Tunnel westbound will close for construction.

Strait says he recently heard about the closures on NewsChannel 3 and not from the hospital. It's something he's concerned about considering he had a hip replacement a few months ago.

“I've always wanted to make sure I have an emergency room close by because if they can catch it early enough before it gets to the hip, if I have some sort of blood infection, they'd be able to cure it before they'd have to remove the hip,” says Strait.

He feels people at the Portsmouth Hospital should have done a better job getting the word out.

The Naval Medical Center issued the following statement: 

Naval Medical Center Portsmouth is deeply concerned any time our patients have trouble getting to the hospital.  We have posted information on the Downtown Tunnel closures and alternate routes for our staff and patients, and encourage them to familiarize which route works best based on their location and time of day.  
We always recommend that if you have an urgent health care issue, find the closest or most appropriate treatment facility. If you fear a loss of life, limb or eyesight, go to the closest emergency room.  

We encourage our patients to review their TRICARE coverage - whether they have Prime, Extra or Standard - so they can make the best health care decisions for themselves and their families. For questions about TRICARE, please visit

Alternate Routes:

Traffic will be detoured to the I-64 High Rise Bridge. Expect delays of up to 30 minutes.

Other alternate routes include Route 58 Midtown Tunnel, Route 13 Gilmerton Bridge and the tolled South Norfolk Jordan Bridge.