Major closures this weekend at the Downtown Tunnel

Posted at 2:16 PM, Aug 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-11 07:32:11-04

Closures are scheduled for the Downtown Tunnel starting this weekend.

Major closures begin Friday night starting at 8 p.m. The tunnel from Norfolk into Portsmouth will be closed 2-4 weekends a month all the way through next spring.

NewsChannel 3 spoke with ERC and VDOT. A list of questions and answers is provided below:

Q: Why did you decide to close the entire WB direction versus doing bi-directional traffic in the other tube during the weekend closures?

A: Bi-directional works best in long term closures; if you have a crash in the EB tunnel then traffic in BOTH directions will be closed and emergency responders will not have a safe staging area in this situation. This is the safest option.

Kristen Crowley explains more on the detours:

If you are driving from Chesapeake and/or North Carolina, Click Here
If you are driving from Norfolk, Click Here
If you are driving from Virginia Beach, Click Here
If you are driving from the Peninsula, Click Here

Q: What if you head from Virginia Beach I-264 WB and miss the detour to the High Rise Bridge and go up on the Berkley Bridge, what will happen?

A: If you get stuck on the Berkley Bridge, you will have to take I-464 SB, from there you can take the High Rise Bridge I-64 EB over to I-264 OR the Jordan Bridge on Poindexter (which is toll free this weekend.)

Q: What happens with a catastrophic event (hurricane, deadly crash, flooding) that closes the Midtown Tunnel? Is there a plan in place to reopen the Downtown Tunnel WB?

A: This is a case by case situation, if there is an hour backup at the Midtown that is not cause to reopen and they will cancel in advance. If there is any threat of severe weather, VDOT has all brought on additional responders, workers, and state police to monitor the detour routes and make sure crashes are cleared quickly.

Q: Will the Gilmerton Bridge close on the weekends that the tunnel is closed?

A: The Gilmerton Bridge will close at 10 p.m. on Sunday nights instead of 8 p.m. to help with backups that are expected until 8 p.m. at the High Rise Bridge.

Closures are scheduled for 25 weekends. Crews may not use all of those weekends due to weather or finishing up early; they factored in extra time for days lost.