BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — Drivers might face heavy delays this week at Interstate 77’s East River Tunnel, on the West Virginia-Virginia state line, as the tunnel is repaired because a tractor-trailer hauling cardboard burned inside it Friday.
From 8 p.m. Tuesday to 8 a.m. Wednesday, northbound drivers will be piloted through the southbound tunnel while the northbound tunnel is being repaired.
Repairs will resume Wednesday at 8 p.m. and continue through Thursday at 7 a.m., according to a news release from the West Virginia Department of Transportation. Drivers should expect heavy delays.
On Friday, after traffic was diverted from the tunnel, crews repaired lighting, asphalt and fiber optics, according to a news release from the Virginia Department of Transportation.
The tunnel was reopened within 24 hours of the incident — something that officials said they were happy with, considering the extensive damage.
“Knowing how important the I-77 corridor is to motorists — especially during the peak holiday travel season — we were pleased to have the tunnel reopened within almost 24 hours,” said Ken King, regional operations manager for VDOT.
Two Green Valley-Glenwood Volunteer Fire Department firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation during Friday’s blaze. It took two hours to put out the fire, which sent thick black smoke billowing from the tunnel’s openings.