NORFOLK- A bomb threat was called in to Va. State Police Wednesday morning, putting officers on alert and forcing inspections of all trucks passing through the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel and the Monitor-Merrimac going north.
As a result, traffic backed up for miles on I-64 at the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel and on I-664 North at the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel.
Va. State Police said commercial vehicles at both tunnels would be inspected throughout the day, even though the time frame for the threat has expired.
Both tunnels were reopened around 3:15.
Local and State Police increased patrols, Homeland Security and members of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force provided assistance and support to State Police as needed, said FBI spokeswoman Vanessa Torres. The task force is a collaborative effort with the FBI, local, state and federal agencies. The U.S. Coast Guard provided two K-9 units to assist State Police in their investigation, said Petty Officer Brandyn Hill.
Naval Station Norfolk deployed two military working dog teams to support Virginia State Police truck inspections at the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. The emergent request came from the Transportation Security Administration.
In a statement, authorities said, 'At approximately 7:50 a.m., Wednesday (Sept. 11, 2013), Virginia State Police received a phone call regarding a bomb threat within the Hampton Roads region. The threat included a timeframe for the threat to occur, which has since expired. At this time, no incidents have been reported anywhere in the Hampton Roads region.
As a precautionary measure, state police immediately stepped up patrols within the region as well as initiated commercial vehicle inspections along Interstates 64 and 664. For the safety of the motoring public, the inspections will continue throughout the day due to it being the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
State police have also been working with federal and local law enforcement to evaluate the threat, and to supplement patrol and inspection resources. The incident remains under investigation.
Due to the nature of today's anniversary, state police across the Commonwealth have been on heightened alert for the safety of the Commonwealth and its citizens. '
People were talking about the traffic on the WVEC13 Facebook page.
Kimberly Morris Burke wrote, 'I came through the tunnel at around 8:45 am, and the police were just getting there. I saw about 10 police cars. I was wondering what was going on and thinking about what day it is. Kinda scary going through that tunnel.'
Debbie Linkous Thomas added, 'Ridiculous that everyone has to pay the price for a prank...bombers and terrorists usually don't call and warn you first...just saying. BUT there's always a first time, so what do you do but take it seriously.'
Mixie Monrroy Morales added, 'I missed a Dr.'s appt at Langley because of it.'
David Taylor wrote, 'I always feel vulnerable in any of the tunnels, on any day, but especially today. Was headed for the downtown tunnel, but the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge is my plan now. Peace of mind for a buck and a half is a steal. State Police must have some reason for inspecting these trucks, and I'm glad to see them doing it.'
Traffic was backed up for miles at both tunnels.
Michael Brewer, the chief of police with the Virginia Port Authority Police Dept., said, 'We are always at 'elevated' level and continue to maintain compliance with the MARSEC level as directed by the USCG Captain of the Port. In more laymen words, we are closely monitoring today's threats and in communication with our state and federal law enforcement partners.'
Hampton Roads Transit tweeted this message,'Please be suspicious of anything unattended on HRT's vehicles or property. Tell a cop, or call HRT Safety and Security at 757-222-6134.'