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Frequently Asked Questions About Bridges
What is the average length of a bridge opening?
There are many variables that effect the exact time for a bridge closure; however, most do not exceed 10 minutes.
Why does the bridge sometimes open during restricted rush hour periods?
During restricted rush hour periods, lifts are limited to commercial vessels with a 2hr reservation. For security reasons, it is required that our bridge operators (the Public Works employee who controls the bridge opening) always allow vessels transporting hazardous materials to transit the waterway at any time without any reservations. These vessels are more commonly known as "red flag" vessels. The same policy also applies to Coast Guard, police, or any boat that has declared an emergency.
- For restricted periods for each bridge, please consult the individual bridge's webpage or the bridge brochure
Please note that a restricted period of (for example) 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. means that the last opening for a waterway user may occur at 7 a.m. (and run from 7 a.m. until all vessels waiting at the bridge have passed), but the next bridge opening will not begin until 9 a.m. (unless there is a commercial vessel with a two-hour advanced reservation or a vessel carrying hazardous materials). The City makes every effort to keep lifts within the designated lift times.
Bridge lifts for commercial vessels with two-hour advanced reservations during restricted rush hour periods are normally communicated to metro traffic radio and other media outlets.
Why do pleasure craft sometimes pass during restricted rush hour periods?
If a pleasure craft is present at the bridge awaiting an opening when a commercial vessel with a two-hour advance reservation passes, the pleasure craft is permitted to transit also.
Can you tell citizens when the bridge will be open longer than usual?
When we are notified of a vessel that will take longer than the normal amount of time to travel through the passageway, the Bridge Administrator notifies the Public Works Information Coordinator who then issues a travel advisory. Travel advisories are emailed to various media sources. When possible, the information is also posted on the City of Chesapeake website and sent out through the Public Works Twitter page (www.Twitter.com/ChesapeakeGovt).
Can't the City just change the hours for lifts?
Bridge openings are Federal regulations and are enforced by the Coast Guard. The City may request a change to a bridge restriction schedules, but it is the Coast Guard that must approve any changes.
Which bridges are owned and operated by the City of Chesapeake?
- Gilmerton Bridge located on Military Highway over the Elizabeth River
- Great Bridge Bridge located on Battlefield Blvd. over the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal
- Centerville Turnpike Bridge located on Centerville Turnpike over the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal
Who owns and operates the other movable bridges in the City?
VDOT operates the High Rise Bridge carrying I-64 over the Elizabeth River. The Army Corps of Engineers operates the Deep Creek Bridge (U.S. 17 Business over the Dismal Swamp Canal) and the North Landing Bridge (Mount Pleasant Road over the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal).
Is there a time of year that the openings are heavier than others?
Yes. Our area has what we call the "snow bird" seasons. These last from approximately late April to the end of May with boats heading north for the summer and from late October to the end of November with boats heading south for the winter. Many pleasure craft (non-commercial) vessels travel back during these periods. Bridge lifts with more than 20 vessels passing through at one time are not uncommon.
Do any of the bridges have weight restrictions?
Yes, certain bridges and overpasses throughout the City have weight restrictions. The Bridge Sufficiency and Weight Restrictions map has this information mapped out.
How can boaters be aware of changes while traveling on the waterway?
All boaters are asked to keep their radios tuned to Channel 13 in order to communicate with bridge tenders.