December 13, 2016
NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) — If you’ve noticed lately that the Route 58 Midtown Tunnel from Portsmouth to Norfolk isn’t as jammed as it used to be in the mornings, you’re not alone.
In recent weeks, the eastbound tube of the Midtown Tunnel has not seen its usual congestion during the morning rush hour. It’s a welcome change for drivers who use it on a daily basis.
“I got on the Midtown Tunnel probably like, two days ago, and the traffic was alright, it wasn’t too backed up,” says local driver Cassie Waterford.
“I’m in school so I use [the Midtown Tunnel] for rotations and a lot of times [I] have to go through the tunnels everyday. So, it’s gotten better. And I live right by the tunnel so a lot of times I can look out my window and see how backed up it is. But it’s gotten a little bit better,” says local driver Hillary Hartung.
Elizabeth River Crossings is glad to see the smoother ride at the tunnel as well, and they believe they know what’s behind the improvement in travel.
“We did have one lane of the existing Midtown Tunnel closed so we can accelerate some work in the rehabilitation part of the tunnel,” says Leila Rice with ERC.
That lane reopened to traffic on October 3rd.
“Once we opened that up and you had two lanes now going eastbound– and then you’ve got the two lanes westbound– it immediately freed things up,” explained Rice.
ERC says the addition of tolls and the opening of the new MLK Expressway may also explain lighter traffic at the Midtown Tunnel. Renovation is still going on at the eastbound tube during nights and weekends. In the mornings, however, you’ll have less hold ups heading to Norfolk– and less excuses for being late.
“A couple of different business owners have said that they appreciate actually having the tolls on the tunnels because their employees and I believe the added capacity too has allowed their employees to get to work sooner. They don’t sit in backups and they don’t sit in congestion, and they don’t have to wait for them to get to work,” said Rice.
While both travel lanes are open at the Midtown Tunnel East weekdays, one lane will be closed each night this week from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. for rehab.
The tube will also be fully closed from 8 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday. Take the Downtown Tunnel, Jordan Bridge, Gilmerton Bridge, or High Rise Bridge as an alternate route.