NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) - Governor Bob McDonnell had some strong words for VDOT after this past weekend's traffic debacle caused by the closure of both the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and the James River Bridge.
McDonnell issued the following statement to WAVY.com:
"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."
Drivers like Gerri Francis of Newport News were shocked by VDOT's decision to close both the HRBT and James River Bridge Friday night and Saturday.
"It was terrible, especially with the Air Show and people having to travel. You know, their weekend was all screwed up," says Francis.
Newport News Councilwoman and Hampton Roads Transit Board member Patricia Woodbury knew of this weekend's two bridge closures, but she did not realize traffic would be as bad as it was.
"I thought, 'Oh my goodness these poor people.' Thank goodness it wasn't 100 degrees because we would have had even more problems I think," says Woodbury.
While she felt bad for drivers trying to get to the Southside, she saw a silver lining, so to speak.
"In one way, maybe it's a good thing that it brings awareness to the fact that we have got to address our transportation problems here in Virginia," Woodbury said.
Woodbury says while VDOT could have planned better, the work was necessary.
"I'd be more concerned if they weren't addressing the problems of safety with our bridges and our tunnels. I mean, I think that has to be done," says Woodbury.
In addition to the highway, traffic was backed up on roads in Newport News like Jefferson Avenue and Warwick Boulevards. While that caused problems for motorists, many gas station employees tell WAVY.com their business has never been better.
Emergency responders say they did have to change some response routes, but their response times did not increase much, if at all.
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