CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Chopper 10 brought frustrated viewers a bird’s eye view of the 168 bridge in Chesapeake, where one southbound lane remains closed.
In an update Friday afternoon, repair work on the bridge is expected to begin on Sunday May 21 at 2:30 p.m. Work is expected to be done day and night in order to get the bridge back to full capacity as quickly as possible.
Last week a barge struck the underside of the bridge, causing damage to a girder. While a repair plan is underway, city crews are working to reopen another lane to some vehicles.
“[There] is a place where we run two lanes of traffic over that southbound span and we will do that by blocking off the very center of the bridge and we will use the outside shoulder lane to run through traffic,” said Ed Sorey, Chesapeake’s director of public works, about repairs and mitigation efforts. “We hope to have that in place by the weekend in anticipation of a high volume of traffic.”
While the delays may pose an inconvenience for those headed to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Sorey is concerned about regional commerce. He has called on officials from the Port of Virginia to spread the word with truckers, who will need to find alternate routes as the bridge remains closed to many commercial trucks.
“Dump trucks on up to the semi-trailers [are banned], your typical box truck like an Amazon delivery truck would be allowed pass,” Sorey said.
To keep traffic flowing on the roads, the City of Chesapeake will slow down traffic on the Elizabeth River by limiting openings on the Great Bridge Bridge.
Everything you need to know to stay ahead of congestion is a click away.
“We have a dedicated website on the city’s homepage, it’s available from one click on [the city’s website — https://www.cityofchesapeake.net.] There are also text alerts that people can sign up to and that’s specific to this 168 bridge issue,” Sorey said.
But there’s another issue that could snarl traffic. A previously scheduled utility upgrade will close the Centerville Turnpike Bridge from 8 p.m. Wednesday through 8 p.m. Thursday. City officials are calling on travelers to pack some patience.
“These events have caused significant traffic congestion, but we are going to work as quickly as we can. We have a number of traffic mitigation measures in the works, we do ask for the public’s patience as we work through them,” Sorey said.
The bridge crash is under investigation by the Coast Guard. According to published reports, the spud barge that hit the 168 bridge is owned by the same company that caused a 2.5 million gallon wastewater release near the Great Bridge Locks.
Closures at the 168 bridge are expected to continue for about 30 days, the city says, “and will largely rely on availability of specialized crew to perform “heat straightening” of damaged girder.”