PORTSMOUTH-A big change for drivers on I-264 East at Des Moines Ave. in Portsmouth - the off-ramp will be shut down and drivers will be detoured to the I-264 East Effingham St.

It's part of the Martin Luther King Extension.

Wednesday night, the right lane and right shoulder closed on I-264 East from just east of Portsmouth Blvd. to just east of Des Moines Ave. The left and center lanes of I-264 East will narrow in this area to accommodate ongoing construction activities. Drivers should expect a traffic pattern change for the Portsmouth Blvd. and Frederick Blvd. on-ramps to I-264 East through Nov. 26. Then, after the Thanksgiving holiday, on-ramp traffic will be directed to YIELD before entering the interstate. That change will be in place for the next 18 months, according to Elizabeth River Tunnels.

During the closure, crews also will re-stripe lanes and install concrete barriers.

The project spared Bethel Temple Church but not its parking lot.

Minister Pastor Earl Hinton, Sr. said, 'I know we lost some land, a good portion of it, probably about a third a good fourth of the land ... and it will affect us parking space wise.'

Ministser Hinton hopes that parking issue won't keep his congregation from services and, looking to the future, he worries that tolls will also keep members who live outside Portsmouth away.

The closure is part of the Elizabeth River Tunnels Project by the Va. Dept. of Transportation and Elizabeth River Tunnels, which includes upgrades to the Downtown Tunnel and construction of a second Midtown Tunnel. Officials say the MLK Extension will provide drivers direct access between the two tunnels. Drivers using the tunnels and the MLK extension will pay a toll.

More on the MLK Extension and the Downtown and Midtown tunnels project is on the Elizabeth River Tunnels Website.

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