Traffic nightmare follows after I-64 lanes closed for more than eight hours

The Virginia Gazette

Drivers headed to the Peninsula Thursday spent hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic when I-64 was closed for eight hours after a fatal crash.

A tractor trailer driver, William E. Robinson, died in the multi-vehicle crash after the tractor-trailer he was in smashed into several trees and flipped over. The 69-year-old Staunton man was pronounced dead at the scene, said State Police Sgt. Michelle Anaya.

Although the fatal crash occurred around 4 a.m., commuters headed to any points east were diverted from a closed section of I-64 in James City County to Route 143. 

Commuters headed into Newport News on Route 143 inched along in a lines of vehicles that crowded both lanes. Drivers who took Route 60 found a similar congestion, with cars lined up on the more rural route out of Williamsburg. 

The gridlock was so bad that police adivsed drivers to avoid the area, and not to attempt to get to the peninsula.

Smaller fender-benders were reported on Route 60, Route 143 and I-64 west, state police said, with local police agencies, including James City County Police, assisting with crashes on these main travel routes. 

The fatal wreck which set off a chain reaction of congestion occurred just before 3:45 a.m. near the Lee Hall exit, about mile marker 249 by Fort Eustis Boulevard, said State Police Sgt. Michelle Anaya.

A tractor trailer traveling east in the right lane hit the back of a parked truck covering for road crews working on I-64, Anaya said. Another tractor trailer traveling in the left lane ran off the road after attempting to avoid the truck. 

The second tractor trailer struck trees and flipped over, killing Robinson, Anaya said.

Lawayne R. Bland, 36, from Prince George, was driving the tractor trailer which struck police allege set the fatal crash in motion, and is charged with reckless driving, Anaya said

With the crash, Virginia State Police closed a section of I-64 near Lee Hall, diverting traffic to alternate routes. With morning commutes starting within hours of the fatal crash, congestion began backing up on Route 60 and Route 143.

Additionally, another work zone pickup truck received damage in the initial collision.

No other injuries were reported. 

Eastbound lanes on I-64 were closed until a little after 1 p.m. Thursday, according to VDOT spokeswoman Paula Miller.

Reach Canty at (757) 345-2341.

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