PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - WAVY.com conducted the Downtown Tunnel Detour Experiment, testing the options for drivers who need to get from Norfolk to Portsmouth during the Downtown Tunnel closures.
The tunnel is undergoing a rehab project that will close the westbound tube at night for the next 25 weekends. Beginning Friday, August 9, the tube will close at 8 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday.
Before the first closure, WAVY's Andy Fox spent the day driving the alternate routes to give viewers a better view of their options.
The first route -- take the I-264 West off ramp for Brambleton Avenue, heading towards the Midtown Tunnel. The detour took seven miles, but the immediate problem is the stop lights. Another problem -- there isn't a detour Midtown Tunnel sign until Brambleton At Church Street.
The next detour is traveling across the High Rise Bridge, which is VDOT's preferred route for drivers during the closures. From Downtown Portsmouth, divers would get on I-264 West, then I-64 towards Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, then I-464 and exit at the Berkley Bridge. By the end of the route, 20 miles have been added to your trip.
Another alternate route is by way of the Jordan Bridge. Drivers can use the Berkley Bridge and take I-464 past the Downtown Tunnel to the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge. Bridge General Manager Kevin Crum says there's no toll on the bridge beginning Friday at midnight until Sunday at midnight.
"We think the Jordan Bridge will help alleviate congestion and introduce the bridge for the first time to folks in the community," says Crum.
After leaving the bridge, take a hard right on George Washington Highway and up Effingham Avenue into Downtown Portsmouth. This alternate route was only six miles.
WAVY.com also caught up with some of the last drivers to make it through the westbound tube of the Downtown Tunnel before it was shut down Friday night. One man made it clear he's not happy about what's taking place.
"It sucks," said Alton Holmes. "They're starting to block it off as we speak. This town here is really a hotspot, especially downtown. It's really going to mess up businesses. They're just getting ready to mess everything up."
Click here to read WAVY News 10 Traffic Reporter Cheryl Tan's blog about the project.
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