UPDATE 8:00 p.m. Saturday The Virginia Department of Transportation opened the second northbound lane in the tunnel.
UPDATE: 9:30 a.m. Saturday The Virginia Department of Transportation reopened the right hand lane of the northbound tunnel.
BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — Interstate 77 southbound at the East River tunnel reopened to West Virginia traffic at about 10 p.m. Friday night after being closed for seven hours following a truck fire in the northbound tunnel.
A tractor-trailer hauling paper boxes caught on fire at shortly after 3 p.m. Motorists were quickly evacuated from the tunnel. The flames did structural damage to the northbound tunnel on the West Virginia-Virginia line near Bluefield. The tunnel is owned by the State of Virginia, which will be in charge of repairs.
Southbound traffic on a busy Friday night of vacation season was rerouted at Princeton onto U.S. Route 460 and then to Interstate 81 south. The backup was for miles.
There’s usually a major backup northbound on Saturday afternoons during the vacation season from at least Wytheville, Va. to Fancy Gap, Va. on I-77. All of that traffic will have to go somewhere else this Saturday, most expected to go I-81 at Wytheville to U.S. Route 460 and then back over to I-77 at Princeton.