HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Drivers in the eastbound lanes of I-64, near the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT), sat in traffic for several hours on Friday afternoon.
The eastbound lanes of I-64 closed at about 11:15 a.m. on Friday and remained closed until about 1:30 p.m. There were delays stretching for more than two miles.
A VDOT spokeswoman gave the following statement to 10 On Your Side:
“The closure on I-64 east at the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel was to address an increase in construction dust in the tunnel causing potential visibility issues for motorists. VDOT has been working diligently to get the dust cleared from the tunnel as quickly as possible. We have increased the exhaust fans and have utilized sweeper trucks to clear and wet down the lanes in the tunnel. I just received word that I-64 east at the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel has just reopened at reduced speed as we continue to monitor for any additional residual dust or visibility concerns. Additionally, we have multiple trucks scheduled to sweep and rinse the tunnel lanes this evening outside of peak-travel times.“
Drivers need to be aware of potential delays at the HRBT due to tunnel cleaning.
The VDOT spokeswoman released another statement Friday afternoon giving additional information about where the dust came from.
A piece of machinery used by a contractor doing scheduled maintenance work malfunctioned, causing concrete dust to go into the tunnel’s lower air duct Thursday.
Residual concrete dust settled into the ventilation air ducts and then was blown into the tunnel by the exhaust fans. That dust that ended up in the tunnel Friday was too heavy to be totally removed by the exhaust fans, so sweeper trucks and other “state forces” were sent in to continuously drive through the tunnel, kick up the dust, and help get it removed.
“While the cleanup of this debris was more complex and took longer than initially anticipated, the eastbound tunnel remained closed to traffic during this time with motorists’ safety as VDOT’s top priority,” the VDOT spokeswoman said.
The contractor will be required to clean the ducts and fix the issue with the machinery before they can resume the milling operation they were previously doing.
“VDOT will be taking additional measures this 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. and 5 a.m. to allow three sweeper trucks and one water truck to clear the tunnel roadway of any remaining debris,” VDOT said.