Accidents at the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) occur with an alarming regularity. Congestion and long lines are the norm at this congested I-64 link between Norfolk and Hampton and there have been some terrifying wrecks in recent months.
On Wednesday, the HRBT was closed for more than an hour eastbound when a GMC dump truck blew a tire and hit the wall of the tunnel, causing large amounts of oil and hydraulic fuel to be spilled in the tunnel.
Fortunately, no other vehicles were involved in this crash because the idea of a dump truck being out of control in the HRBT is a truly terrifying one.
Earlier this summer, a multiple vehicle accident in the HRBT caused a fire and resulted in motorists evacuating the tunnel on foot. About 70-80 people were evacuated from the tunnel as it filled with smoke from a car fire. In the aftermath of the wreck about 15 people were treated for smoke inhalation.
The wreck highlights the hazards of Hampton Roads’ bridges and tunnels. If a car fire occurs elsewhere on the interstate, it’s usually on the shoulder and other motorists won’t be harmed by the smoke and fumes. However, a tunnel is a closed environment that can trap drivers.
The worst tunnel accident in history occurred in 1999 under Mont Blanc in France when an inferno engulfed 40 cars and trucks and claimed 35 lives. A subsequent investigation revealed serious inadequacies in the tunnel.
The tunnels in Hampton Roads are not as long as the Mont Blanc tunnel but there are five of them. As well as the HRBT, the Virginia Peninsula, and the Southside are linked by the Monitor Merrimac Memorial Bridge Tunnel (MMMBT) and Portsmouth and Norfolk are linked by the Downtown and Midtown Tunnels. The longest bridge-tunnel is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel that links Virginia Beach to the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
When you are driving in these tunnels you should take some precautions. Don’t speed but also make sure not to stop suddenly because the driver behind you may not have time to react. You should never change lanes in a tunnel and don’t do so until you are out of the tunnel and no longer facing a solid line in the road.
If you have been hurt in a wreck in the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel or another tunnel, or elsewhere in Hampton Roads, call our experienced injury lawyers at (757) 455-0077.