Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Accidents

Stephen M. Smith
Last Updated:
November 27, 2019

Hampton Roads has many dangerous and busy tunnels and river crossings. The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel between Hampton and Norfolk is one of the most hazardous and accident-prone stretches of interstate. Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel accidents made headlines in recent months.

When crashes occur in a confined space, the results can be serious. The complicated nature of Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel accidents was highlighted on May 2019 when an eight-vehicle crash closed the tube for hours.

The driver who was charged with causing the HRBT crash by following too closely was later hit with a $25,000 bill.

A Virginia State Police spokesman said the driver of an F350 box truck, swerved to avoid stationary traffic, rear-ended a vehicle ahead, and swerved into the path of a tractor-trailer.

The tractor-trailer struck the tunnel wall and caused the box truck to jackknife into the truck and another vehicle, causing a chain reaction wreck.

Police said the tractor-trailer involved in the crash was carrying hazardous materials.

Serious crashes, fires, or other incidents in the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel have led to its closure or evacuation in recent years.

In 2016, two vehicles caught fire in the eastbound tube of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel after one car hit the back of another.

The accident caused the tunnel to fill with smoke. As many as 80 drivers were forced to get out of their cars and evacuate the tunnel. Ambulance crews transported four people to local hospitals and about nine were treated for smoke inhalation. The blaze caused damage to the tunnel and completely destroyed one of the vehicles.

Recent accidents illustrate the potential hazards at crossings in Hampton Roads and elsewhere. When crashes occur in tunnels, there is nowhere for traffic to go. There is also no outlet for hazardous fumes.

As well as tunnel crashes, Hampton Roads saw a spate of accidents on bridges in recent years. Trucks crashed off bridge spans at the Monitor Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

The I-64 Hampton Roads-Bridge Tunnel connects Hampton and Norfolk. It’s the oldest and most congested crossings taking traffic under Hampton Roads.

The bridge-tunnel is infamous for its long backups. Plans to replace it are underway.

The Virginian-Pilot reported more than 4.76 million vehicles crossed the HRBT and the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel in 2013, an increase of more than 21,000 compared with the same time last year. The tunnel sees about 20 crashes a month and 90 breakdowns.

The HRBT tunnels opened in 1957 and 1976. Traffic on four lanes exceeds 100,000 vehicles per day during peak summer traffic, the expansion project notes.

The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Expansion project is expected to ease the congestion by widening the four-lane segments of the I-64 corridor at the crossing.

Contracts were signed in 2019 for the $3.8 billion project.  The improvement will add capacity to the congested HRBT.

It entails:

  • The addition of two new two-lane tunnels
  • Widening of the four-lane sections of I-64 in the City of Hampton between Settlers Landing Road and the shore at Phoebus;
  • Widening of the four-lane section of I-64 in the City of Norfolk linking the Willoughby shoreline and the I-564 interchange.

The widening of the Midtown Tunnel between Norfolk and Portsmouth over the last few years alleviated traffic congestion and appears to have reduced accidents in the tunnels. During times of congestion drivers often become impatient and road rage accidents are more prevalent. Tailgating is a form of aggressive driving. It’s very dangerous because the driver traveling too closely often has little time to react to traffic slowing down suddenly ahead.

Contact an Experienced Hampton Car Accident Lawyer over HRBT Accidents

At the Smith Law Center, our experienced trial lawyers have helped many people injured in HRBT wrecks. We have assisted injured clients in the city of Hampton since the 1940s.

Read more about traffic accidents our website or call us at (757) 244-7000.

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