Truckers losing points, paying fines at Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel

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At least 11 truckers were hit with fines and three points off their CDLs in late August for attempting to enter the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel with too-tall vehicles.

State troopers ticketed violators, and municipal court fines tended to be $90, although the maximum fee allowed is $500, said Jim Harrison, manager of the Interstate 64 bridge-tunnel complex for the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The stepped-up enforcement results from two laws that took effect July 1, both with the support of the Virginia Trucking Association.

One authorizes the DOT to use optical detection systems to spot trucks exceeding the overhead clearance of the tunnel’s westbound lane. The other law makes attempted entry with a too-tall truck a Class 3 misdemeanor that results in the loss of three driver demerit points. Authorities usually revoke a commercial license if the operator has lost six points.

The westbound tunnel is 13 feet 10 inches at its lowest point and was built before the eastbound tunnel, which allows for a taller truck. The bouncing of vehicles can cause a tractor-trailer higher than 13 feet 6 inches to scrape the roof, Harrison said.

Some truckers get past the inspection station by lowering their air bags, Harrison said. In July, officials had to turn back 626 trucks because of height.

Westbound truckers are redirected to the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel, which offers greater clearance.