CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) - Tonight Toll Watch at the new South Norfolk Jordan Bridge,. which connects Chesapeake and Portsmouth across the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River. The new $142 million dollar private bridge will open in July with a toll. Car drivers will likely pay $2.
How will no tolls on the Downtown and Midtown Tunnels until January 2014 affect business on the Jordan Bridge?
You can call the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge the new Jordan Bridge, the mile long bridge, the 170 foot high bridge, the 145 feet of clearance bridge, the tallest bridge in Hampton Roads. Oh, and taxpayers paid nothing for the $142 million dollar bridge.
"It is a lifeline for South Norfolk," says Jerry Pattenaude who is with the Greater South Norfolk Business Consortium. Pattenaude thinks the new bridge will dramatically change South Norfolk, Poindexter Street, and workers at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth. They can't wait until the bridge opens in July.
"It means we are back in business and we have a direct link to Portsmouth," says Pattenaude.
He is a Jordan Bridge supporter, but he acknowledges tolls are troubling for some.
"Most people don't agree with tolls because it segregates a community...for that reason I think tolls are bad...but this bridge is great for Chesapeake and Portsmouth."
The old Jordan Bridge had a toll, and this one will have a $2 car toll. Will it hurt business at the Jordan that there will be no tolls on the Downtown and Midtown Tunnels until January 2014?
"That decision hasn't changed our rates...we started this project before we knew there would be tolls on those tunnels... but time is money, and congestion is something they (bridge customers) don't want or need," the Jordan Bridge General Manager Kevin Crum said.
Here's the problem: The Jordan could lose trucker revenue. The truck toll rate will be around $4.77 each way. That's what the trucker toll would have been at the Downtown and Midtown tunnels until it became free until January 2014.
We asked, if they are charging that much money then would you likely take the route that's free? "Right," says Bucky Taylor who is Executive Director of SPSA, and the SPSA trucks come and go from the Refuse Derived Fuel Plant on the Portsmouth side of the Jordan Bridge, "The tolls seem a little high that what we need them to be," says Taylor.
Taylor says the decision on whether SPSA uses the Jordan Bridge will include fuel costs and time.
Delaying tolls on the Downtown and Midtown Tunnel has erased the urgency for drivers to get EZ-PASSES, but you will need one on the Jordan Bridge to get the best toll rate.
Remember the old Jordan Bridge could not handle the weight of 18 wheel trucks. There were weight restrictions. There are no weight limits on the new Jordan Bridge, so this is new money for the Jordan.
Unfortunately for the Jordan the true amount of money realized for truck traffic may not be realized until tolls are up on the Downtown and Midtown Tunnels.
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