Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel reopens after construction dust, debris cause reduced visibility, lane closures

Posted at 1:37 PM, Apr 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-29 23:07:33-04

I-64 east at the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel has reopened at reduced speed after Virginia Department of Transportation construction caused backups and lane closures Friday afternoon.

According to a tweet from VDOT Hampton Roads, the tunnel was closed as workers cleared dust and debris from the tunnel, which caused visibility concerns.

A VDOT spokesperson told News 3 the closure was to address an increase in the dust. VDOT workers increased the exhaust fans and used sweeper trucks to clear and wet down lanes in the tunnel.

The agency explained that a piece of machinery being used by a contractor performing scheduled roadway maintenance work at the HRBT had malfunctioned, resulting in the release of concrete dust in the tunnel’s lower air duct.

The tunnel closure was the result of residual concrete dust that had settled in the ventilation air ducts and then was blown out by the exhaust fans, which caused visibility issues.

VDOT says the concrete dust that filled the tunnel and covered the road was too heavy to be completely dispelled by increasing the exhaust fan speeds, so two sweeper trucks and multiple state forces were deployed to drive through the tunnel continuously to kick up the heavy dust to assist with removal. While the cleanup of this debris was more complex and took longer than the agency initially anticipated, the eastbound tunnel remained closed to traffic during this time to ensure drivers' safety.

VDOT has directed the contractor to clean the ducts and address the machine malfunction before the agency will allow the contractor to resume any further work on the milling being done on the concrete slab under the road as part of scheduled maintenance.

VDOT says it will be taking additional measures Friday evening to ensure the tunnel is clear of any residual dust or debris. Brief, intermittent stoppages up to 15 minutes each are scheduled to take place overnight tonight between 11:59 p.m. Friday and 5 a.m. Saturday to allow three sweeper trucks and one water truck to clear the tunnel of any remaining debris.