Wreck and Fire in Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel Injures Four

We saw disturbing scenes at the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) over the weekend when a crash and a fire closed the tunnel for hours.

As smoke filled the tunnel, terrified drivers got out and walked to flee the harmful fumes.

Nevertheless, 15 people were treated for smoke inhalation on Saturday night, according to Virginia State Police. Four people were taken to a local hospital. There had been no update on their conditions as of Monday morning.

Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) closed down  the HRBT between Hampton and Norfolk in both directions for hours.  Eastbound driver were detoured to at Mallory Street in Hampton and westbound traffic at 4th View Street in Norfolk.

The westbound tube was reopened just before 11 p.m. The eastbound tube reopened about 45 minutes after that.

The Daily Press reported that the crash occurred when a Volkswagen Passat rear-ended a 2015 Acura. Both cars then caught on fire.

According to media reports, about 35 vehicles were in the tunnel when the fire occurred, and about 70 to 80 people had to be evacuated from the tunnel. Pictures posted to social media showed people walking out of the tunnel and damage was reported inside.

I have written previously about how the many bridges and tunnels in and around Hampton Roads is a recipe for chaos and accidents. This incident illustrates the particular dangers of a vehicle fire in a tunnel.

Many studies have shown that this tunnel sees the most crashes of any tunnel in the area.

The back-ups at the HRBT during the morning and evening commutes are well known. However, my colleague John Cooper recently wrote about congestion at the HRBT over the weekend.

It makes sense to avoid the HRBT if you can and consider as an alternative the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel which is usually quieter. If you are driving in any of the bottlenecks in Hampton Roads, you should make sure to give the car in front of you plenty of room and don’t drive distracted. There are other rules such as not changing lanes in the tunnel.

When accidents happen in tunnels they can be very serious and cause massive disruption as we saw on Saturday night. We hope those people who were hurt make a speedy recovery.

If you or a loved one is injured due to a crash caused by another driver, you may have grounds to file a claim against that driver’s insurance policy. Call us for help in making a claim at (757) 455-0077.

Jim Hurley

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