VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Boaters who use Hell’s Point Creek to cross under Sandbridge Road will now be able to do so for another three weeks.
The Virginia Beach Department of Public Works announced Friday the turbidity curtains currently surrounding both sides of the bridge will be lifted until May 27.
The curtains, placed there as part of a $8 million construction project to replace the bridge, are used to protect the creek “as an erosion and sediment requirement as well as a safety barrier to protect boaters and others who come near the bridge,” the release said.
However, boaters who live in communities upsteam, like Ocean Lakes and Lago Mar, say it also cuts off their access to Back Bay and public boat ramps.
“Oh my gosh this is really going to spoil our summer,” said Dennis Gaitens, who lives on a canal in the Ocean Lakes community. “There are a lot of people who have boats back here and that is our only access point to dockside restaurants and ramp access.”
What really upsets Gaitens is that he was only made aware of the closure when other boat owners came up upon the curtains while out on a cruise
“No one informed us,” Gaitens said. “Nothing through the mail, through the city, anything … when people find out they are really going to be upset.”
However, Drew Lankford with VB Public Works explained the city had no obligation to warn boaters.
“Hell’s Point Creek is not considered a navigable waterway by the city, state or federal governments,” Lankford said. “There is only 4 feet of clearance from the water to the bridge bottom. There are not even lights installed for navigation.”
He said IICON, the contractors for the bridge work, have agreed to allow boaters to still pass under the bridge until May 28 to allow them “to make alternate plans for water access.”
Once the curtain is back, it will be there until the bridge work is completed, sometime in the spring of 2020.
“I can totally understand they want to put those there for safety,” Gaitens said. “But maybe there is some way there can be a compromise on weekends or something.”
Gaitens said he may continue to ask for another solution.