- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 5, 2003

NORFOLK (AP) — The supervisor of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel has resigned after Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) officials learned that maintenance ordered in June to make the facility’s floodgates hurricane-ready was not done.

Though the floodgates on the eastbound and westbound tunnels could have been closed during Hurricane Isabel, workers might not have been able to reopen them, VDOT Commissioner Philip Shucet said at a news conference Saturday.

Motorists were never in danger, but the estimated 100,000 who use the tunnel daily would have been inconvenienced for an undetermined amount of time, he said.

Jim Harrison, the supervisor who resigned, should have addressed the problem months earlier, Mr. Shucet said. Mr. Harrison could not be reached for comment.

In January the state ordered a routine inspection of the tunnel’s maintenance and operations. Maintenance deficiencies, some of which might have existed for years, were documented in the June inspection report, Mr. Shucet said.

The report directed Mr. Harrison to repair the gates and retest them before hurricane season. When Mr. Shucet ordered a full-scale test of the floodgates Friday, Mr. Harrison reportedly could not or would not execute it.

He said relatively minor things such as lubricating gears had not been done. Mr. Harrison also failed to report that the maintenance work was behind schedule, Mr. Shucet said, noting he has ordered a test of the floodgates.

Mr. Harrison also oversaw operations of the Coleman Bridge between York and Gloucester counties. No deficiencies are known to exist there except for hurricane damage to the roof of the operator’s booth at the top of the bridge, Mr. Shucet said.

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