Crashes rampant in HR as roads freeze over

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – Icy roads caused crashes across Hampton Roads Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning, forcing authorities to close multiple bridges, overpasses and off-ramps until they could be treated with anti-icing solutions.

Chesapeake:

In Chesapeake, police responded to 45 vehicle crashes between 7 p.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. Wednesday, according to Kelly O’Sullivan with the Chesapeake Police Department.

Interstate 664 faced traffic issues northbound and southbound near the Bowers Hill area Wednesday morning around 5 a.m. One crash involved a vehicle in a wooded area and another spun out in the median.

Another crash occurred on Battlefield Boulevard at the Interstate 64 overpass around 7 p.m. Tuesday. The overpass was closed until road crews could treat it, according to Officer Leo Kosinski with Chesapeake Police. The bridge at Battlefield Boulevard and Gallbush Road also shut down, due to a crash.

Kosinski said another crash occurred at the Campostella Road and Atlantic Avenue off-ramp, involving one vehicle. While the driver was waiting inside her vehicle for police to arrive, another vehicle hit her and she sustained a minor injury. Kosinski said both incidents were related to icy road conditions.

Other crashes occurred at the Interstate 664 Jollif Road overpass and Dock Landing overpass. The Gilmerton Bridge also closed at 8 p.m. to be treated.

The South Norfolk Jordan Bridge (SNJB) remained open and was “ice-free” Tuesday night, according to a tweet by the organization, but several crashes Wednesday morning closed the bridge from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. At least three of the crashes involved minor injuries.

Bridge officials tell WAVY.com that before Wednesday morning, the SNJB has not closed for weather-related issues since it opened in 2012.

Isle of Wight County & Newport News:

Wednesday morning, the James River Bridge was closed for hours in both directions due to eight separate crashes and icy conditions. Shellee Casiello with the Virginia Department of Transportation said officials mad the decision to close the bridge around 3 a.m. The southbound lanes reopened by 6:30 a.m. while the northbound lanes remained closed until about 7 a.m.

A Newport News police officer assisting with one of the crashes slipped and fell. The officer was transported to a local hospital with minor injuries.

Casiello said the bridge was treated with salt at 11 p.m. Tuesday and at 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. on Wednesday.

Norfolk:

Norfolk police handled 16 crashes between 7 p.m and midnight Tuesday, five involving minor injuries. From midnight to 9 a.m. Wednesday, 13 more crashes occurred, four of which involved injuries, according to Karen Parker-Chesson with the Norfolk Police Department.

Several crashes were reported on Interstate 264 near Brambleton Avenue Wednesday morning, but 15 vehicles were involved in multiple crashes on the Hampton Boulevard Bridge Tuesday night. Officers were first called to the bridge around 7 p.m., and learned heavy ice caused crashes in both the northbound and southbound lanes. Police closed the bridge from about 7:30 p.m. to 10:20 p.m., during which road crews spread sand and salt. Only one person reported an injury during the crashes.

Portsmouth:

Also between 7 p.m Tuesday and 9 a.m. Wednesday, 13 more crashes occurred in Portsmouth, three of which involved minor injuries, according to police spokeswoman Misty Holley. Five of those incidents involved only one vehicle, seven involved two or more vehicles and one crash was a hit-and-run.

The Cedar Lane overpass was closed around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.

A crash was reported near the APM Terminals involving multiple vehicles eastbound Wednesday morning. Two other crashes occurred on the West Norfolk Bridge on Route 164 Tuesday night. Holley said one was a hit-and-run in the eastbound lanes around 6:42 p.m.  While officers were responding to that crash, a single-vehicle crash occurred in the eastbound lanes. While officers were taking the report for that second crash, a third happened in the westbound lanes at 7:24 p.m.

Holley said the West Norfolk Bridge was shut down completely until about 8:40 p.m. Spokeswoman Leila Rice said Elizabeth River Tunnels crews helped treat that bridge.

As of 9 p.m., Portsmouth Police also shut down the Hodges Ferry Bridge, in the 6500 block of Portsmouth Boulevard, due to vehicle crashes in both directions. Holley said the bridge was very icy and was expected to be reopened around 11:15 p.m.

Suffolk:

The on-ramp headed toward the Western Freeway off Route 17 was closed Wednesday morning.

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So why do bridges freeze first? It’s because freezing air flows above and below elevated surfaces, allowing rapid heat loss. They are also built mostly with concrete and steel, which are both good conductors of cold and hot temperatures.

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