GLOUCESTER, Va. (WAVY) — Catching a bridge lift can be a headache, but when that lift fails to close, it can be a nightmare.
That’s exactly what happened a couple of times at the Coleman Bridge in Gloucester in late July. That’s when 10 On Your Side started looking for answers as to why.
It’s important to note the Coleman Bridge is the second largest of its kind in the world. It’s a double arm swinging bridge, which means its lanes detach and rotate rather than split and lift upwards.
With a mechanical operation like that, there are thousands of things that could go wrong. Two of them happened in late July.
According to VDOT District Maintenance Manager William Collier, the first incident was on the 20th where a switch failed. In order to find that switch, crews had to walk on foot around the bridge to figure out which one it was. That bridge closure lasted close to an hour and a half in increasingly high temperatures. This left many drivers unable to turn around or any other alternative for that matter.
On the 25th, another issue stopped drivers at a similar time and temperature. That failed closure was due to a hydraulics issue.
Both issues have been resolved, but that doesn’t change how drivers feel about the time wasted. In comments on WAVY’s Facebook post, viewers explained they’d missed doctors appointments, work and even a funeral.
Crews are working with consultants to better the lifts and maintain the bridge overall.
They can’t give people back the time wasted on those days, but VDOT hopes drivers know their priority is the safety of drivers and are taking the steps necessary to prevent another failed closure.