NORFOLK, Va. — It’s a traffic headache for people living in the Willoughby area of Norfolk.
Residents say drivers are using the local roads as a shortcut to get to the I-64 Westbound, causing traffic back-ups.
Lea Anne Ewell, a resident of Willoughby, said she had no idea the traffic would be so bad when she moved to the area from Virginia Beach.
“This is the perfect paradise, minus the road,” said Ewell.
Ewell said major delays usually happen a couple of times a week.
“It’s chaos,” she said. “Just to get out of here to get onto the interstate, we leave two hours early.”
Here’s the issue: drivers are going down West Ocean View Ave. to get through the 15th View gate for the ramp onto I-64 Westbound.
It’s become a common shortcut, but the neighbors say the traffic issues in the area have become an increasing problem. In an effort to ease the issue, city leaders partnered with the Virginia Department of Transportation to close this ramp daily from 12:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
But drivers are still going through the area only to find out the gate is closed. They’re going there despite multiple signs and blinking lights warning drivers of the ramp closure.
Don Musacchio, President of the Willoughby Civic League, said he’s noticed the issue getting worse as we head into the summer season.
“We actually have people who live in the 400 block who on a regular basis park at 7-Eleven and walk to their residences, because they can’t get out of their driveways for multiple hours, multiple days of the week,” said Musacchio.
Musacchio said they’ve had multiple meetings with city leaders, and they’ve been responsive, but the issue is a difficult fix.
Amy Inman, Norfolk’s Transit Director, says they're trying to improve the situation on multiple fronts. This month, the city installed a concrete barrier to avoid dangerous wrong-way entries and improve safety. It’s part of a new traffic pattern. Inman said they’re constantly monitoring VDOT traffic cameras, and traffic in the area has improved.
Despite that, on Thursday, our 13News Now crew witnessed dozens of cars attempting to enter the closed gate at 15th View.
“We’ve communicated with the GPS companies, also, VDOT has notified them of these changes, so we’ve received confirmation back that they’re no longer routing drivers to that section of Willoughby,” said Inman.
Despite their concerns, the people living in the area acknowledge it’s a complicated issue, and there’s no easy fix.
“There’s inconvenience no matter what,” said Musacchio. “There is no magic bullet, there is no perfect solution.”
The big message city leaders want drivers to know: the 15th View ramp is closed every afternoon between 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Drivers should enter the interstate from 4th View Street, Tidewater Drive, or Granby Street.
The new traffic patterns are temporary. They’ll be in place until the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel expansion project is complete in 2025.