CHESAPEAKE, VA (WAVY) — While the earlier than anticipated closing of the 22nd Street Bridge in Chesapeake may be a inconvenience, nearby residents say its replacement will mean so much more than safer travel. 

The 4-lane-span bridge that connects Norfolk’s Campostella neighborhood and Chesapeake’s South Norfolk neighborhood has taken drivers across the railroad tracks for 81 years. However a recent inspection deemed it too unsafe, and it was closed for good on August 1st

Plans to replace the aging structure had been in place for some time. 

“We just didn’t expect of it to be closed this soon,” said Vicki Josue, President of the South Norfolk Civic League. “However now that is has happened we are ready for the future.”

While the old bridge takes cars from Wilson Road to 22nd Street, the new one will take cars from Wilson to Poindexter.

“We believe this will significantly help with South Norfolk’s revitalization,” Josue said. “The current bridge lets out in a neighborhood and people get confused if they are not from here. The new bridge will let out in our main business district.”

Right now, Chris Styles Unisex Barbershop is one of only a few businesses that fill buildings on Poindexter. 

“I would like to see this area grow,” said Christopher Dawson, the owner. “The bridge into this street, that will be great. And I would like to be right here when they do it too.”

The $19.9 million project is to proceed with demolition of the old bridge while the new one is built, according to the City of Chesapeake.

The city hopes to start construction in September 2018, pending final agreements with Norfolk-Southern Railroad, which operates underneath.