Tunnel Height Violation

Hampton Tunnel Height Violation

HAMPTON — Height violations and delays at the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel continue despite a yearlong crackdown.

Each day, Virginia Department of Transportation workers detour a handful of too-tall trucks attempting to enter the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, causing congestion along the already-clogged artery. And that’s despite a yearlong crackdown.

Signs warn truckers of height restrictions at least twice before the last opportunity to exit Interstate 64 before the bridge-tunnel.

Violations and the resulting detours are considered among the most frequent causes of traffic jams at the tunnel, Robinson said.

The problem is almost exclusively with tractor-trailers pulling freight or moving trailers on the westbound side where the maximum allowed height is 131/2 feet — a foot less than the eastbound tube. The larger Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge Tunnel has no problems accommodating oversized rigs, Robinson said.

VDOT records show that 80 trucks were detoured from the westbound tube in June — down 15 from the same month in 2005.

Dale Bennett, executive vice president of the Virginia Trucking Association said the national standard for tractor-trailers is a maximum height of 131/2 feet.

But drivers sometimes carelessly over-inflate air ride suspensions — designed to protect freight — raising a truck’s height by several inches.

The number of infractions each of these company’s drivers compiled could not be determined Monday.

Violation points recorded on a repeat offender’s driving record could eventually cost truckers their commercial driver’s license.

Each time a trucker violates the restrictions — and traffic has to be stopped to allow an exit from westbound lanes and re-entry on the eastbound side — the ensuing snarl can constitute a 10-minute traffic delay. Add an accident or break down, and the backup grows.