ERT installs barriers at Downtown Tunnel ramp

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Elizabeth River Tunnels has added new barriers to the I-264 eastbound ramp near the entrance of the Downtown Tunnel in Portsmouth. Some drivers said Tuesday the new barriers, called delineators, caught them by surprise as they approached the tunnel.

“I think a lot of people are surprised by it,” said Portsmouth resident Lydia Nichols. “I almost hit it the first time that I was actually going because normally we’re merging right at that point, so it was a little bit confusing … It just causes some conflict because the people in the left kind of just go for it and us in the right are kind of stuck.”

ERT said the flexible delineators are there to keep people from merging too early and were installed this weekend as part of the resurfacing of that ramp and nearby roads. They are an added safety measure in reducing the number of collisions in the area, ERT said.

Driver Jodie Maule said she supports the change.

“It was easy on, right on, so I didn’t see any problems with it,” she said. “I think it’s a good idea, great idea. I think they should do it in a lot more places … If people would just kind of merge one car after, like you’re supposed to do, one car first, then the next car, then the next car, I think it would go a lot smoother, rather than just try to jump ahead.”

Maxine Emmanuel, who works in Portsmouth, questioned why ERT did not alert drivers to the change.

“It scared me, mostly because I didn’t know what I was doing,” Emmanuel said. “So, I wish that somebody had said that we’re going to have this.”

ERT said it did not give drivers notice through an electronic sign because it did not change the traffic pattern or the distance drivers have to merge. The delineators were placed on the existing solid white line, which drivers are not supposed to cross, ERT said.

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