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NORFOLK -- The risk of flooding from Hurricane Irene has forced VDOT officials to close the Midtown Tunnel, one of two crossings between Norfolk and Portsmouth, the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel and the JamesRiver Bridge.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-TunnelAuthority closed the span to theEastern Shore around midday.

The floodgates were lowered at the Midtown at 10:00 a.m. and won't reopen until the flooding threat is past.

'Conditions at the Midtown Tunnel have reached a point where there is a likely potential for flooding, and the tunnel needs to be closed,' said Dennis Heuer, Hampton Roads District Administrator. 'Crews will reassess the weather conditions and reopen the tunnel to traffic as soon as it is safe.'

The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, which connects the Southside and Peninsula, closed at 11:00 a.m.

VDOT expects the HRBT will be closed for the duration of the storm.

Based on storm projections on Saturday, clean-up crews would begin debris removal Sunday at 5:00 a.m.

Driving speeds have also been reduced to 25 mph at the Downtown Tunnel due to high winds and rainfall.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, which connects Va. Beach to theEastern Shore, also was closed because of safety concerns for drivers, the tunnel authority said.

A recording on the CBBT answering service says the closure comes as a result of heavy winds and rains.

Officials say full closure could last through mid-morning Sunday and that the span won't be reopened until there's been a full inspection to sure it's safe for traveling public.

At 7:00 p.m. Saturday, water on Rt. 17 on the Isle of Wight COunty side forced VDOT to close the James River Bridge, which connects the Peninsula and Southside over the James.

It wasn't immediately clear how long that span would be closed to all traffic.

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