Updated: Monday, 17 Sep 2012, 6:18 AM EDT
Published : Saturday, 15 Sep 2012, 10:08 PM EDT
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) - The closure of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and the James River Bridge caused major traffic delays for thousands of drivers this weekend.
Hundreds of drivers told WAVY.com they are "furious" and "frustrated" that the Virginia Department of Transportation closed the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and the James River Bridge the same weekend. That decision caused many drivers to sit in backed up traffic for hours.
The Monitor Merrimac Memorial Bridge Tunnel was the only way to get from the Peninsula to the Southside because of closures at the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and the James River Bridge .
It started at 9 p.m. Friday, when VDOT closed the eastbound lanes of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, which is also Interstate 64 East. At the same time, the southbound lanes of the James River Bridge closed. The HRBT eastbound lanes reopened at 12:45 a.m. Sunday, slightly ahead of schedule.
Many wonder why VDOT scheduled two closures at the same time. VDOT District Construction Engineer Mike Davis says that was not the original plan.
"The HRBT was originally scheduled to start paving before Memorial Day weekend," said Davis. "There was basically an outcry coming through. We had the commissioner, secretary of transportation, and VDOT, as a whole, looking at it. We said lets postpone this until after the tourist season."
At the same time, the James River Bridge project is running ahead of schedule. Materials needed to repair the decking arrived early.
"They actually procured the material quicker and they're here, ready to start," said Davis. "We don't want to stop that. It's critical to get the decking replaced."
VDOT recommends drivers plan ahead and keep trips to the Southside at a minimum.
The weekend's closures were the beginning of weekend road work, which is listed below:
Additionally, the Interstate 64 eastbound lanes will be closed the following weekends:
The James River Bridge southbound lanes will close for five consecutive weekends starting Friday, Sept. 14. VDOT says motorists are advised to use the MMMBT as an alternate route.
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