VDOT says neither the HRBT nor the JRB will close this weekend. They say they are going to evaluate the severe traffic impacts on motorists following the weekend’s closures.
Officials say they are working on an alternate maintenance plan.
“While we understood that this maintenance work at the HRBT and JRB would cause impacts that would result in delays, the amount of disruption to travelers this weekend was frankly unacceptable,” said Chief Deputy Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick. “We are sorry for the delays Hampton Roads motorists experienced on Saturday, Sept. 15, and will review our future lane closure plans to limit the impacts to the traveling public. There are three major crossings in the Hampton Roads region. The HRBT, the JRB and the I-664 Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel. As a matter of agency policy, VDOT will not schedule multiple closures of these facilities at the same time for the purposes of maintenance and construction work.”
When we spoke with VDOT officials before this happened, we were told this was unavoidable, that both of these crossings had to be closed at the same time on the same weekends, but now that decision has changed so it seems like it was never really an unavoidable decision in the first place.
VDOT says work will resume once a lane closure evaluation is complete. VDOT will have a new schedule determined by the end of this week.
“It is the goal of our agency to ensure that all maintenance operations occur during periods with the least possible impact to motorists, while maintaining safe and efficient travel conditions throughout the area,” said Kilpatrick. “We did not meet that goal, and we must do a better job. Once again, we apologize for the delays and negative impacts this last weekend had on travelers and will strive to improve our project planning and procedures.”
Here is Governor Bob McDonnell's statement on this past weekend's traffic:
"This past weekend's traffic issues in the Hampton Roads area were unacceptable. I lived in Virginia Beach for 21 years and raised my family there. I know how difficult it can be to move around the area, and the impact that construction and accidents can have on motorists. That is why I was disappointed to learn that both the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and the James River Bridge were closed simultaneously, causing long delays. I have asked VDOT to conduct a full review of this past weekend's issues to ensure that this does not happen again. We are making progress in addressing Virginia's transportation challenges. Our historic new funding for roads and bridges in the Commonwealth does bring with it more construction, which will help us reduce congestion and delays in the years ahead. However, that construction must be planned and executed wisely, in a manner that has the least possible impact on the motorists who depend upon our roads to get to work, home and school.”