Virginia: New travel restrictions in wake of Hurricane Florence
Authorities in Virginia are imposing new restrictions on travel on the mainland, including the closure of the entire George Washington Bridge.
The closure of all toll bridges and other major roads, including Interstate 95, Interstate 395, and Interstate 70 will be in place from Monday, the Department of Transportation (DOT) said in a statement.
The closures are in response to Hurricane Florence, which has left about half the island of Virginia without power.
According to the DOT, residents who need to travel to areas without power will be asked to obtain a special permit, which will be issued by the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department.
Travelers can still use the George Washington bridge and the bridges in the Potomac River Valley, where many of the bridges are located, but they will not be allowed to use Interstate 95 between Washington, DC and New York City, according to the Washington Post.
Drivers will have to walk across bridges on the bridge between Washington and New Orleans, according the DOT.
Those who are traveling to other states should expect longer waits for vehicles on the highway and will not have access to the George W. Bush Bridge, the DOT said.
The suspension of all vehicular traffic from all major roads including Interstate 75 from Monday until September 17 will also apply to bridges in other parts of the state, the agency said.
Terry McAuliffe signed the order in a news conference on Monday, according, the Washington Times.
The governor said in the statement that the suspension will help the state stay prepared for flooding and avoid damage to vital infrastructure.
“The Virginia State Police and Virginia National Guard will be deployed to assist in the effort to keep our citizens safe from the threat of flooding, as well as ensure the safety of the public,” McAuliffe said.
“With the assistance of the Virginia National Guardsmen and the Governor’s Emergency Management Agency, we will be able to maintain a secure and safe transportation network.”
The Governor also urged people to keep hydrated, saying that the water will rise again in the next 24 hours and the threat from flooding will not diminish.
Officials said that residents who are staying at homes, hotels, or other accommodations will not face the travel restrictions.
The suspension of the travel ban applies to Virginians over the age of 65, and does not apply to people who are under the age 21.
The Governor said that the suspensions would allow local officials to determine if the roadways are safe for residents, and allow them to make emergency decisions to keep the roads open.
The Virginia Governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.