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- Rt 168 Bypass Bridge Updates
Rt 168 Bypass Bridge Updates
Southbound Bypass Lanes to Reopen Wednesday, May 24
Following a final inspection on Wednesday morning, Public Works will open two southbound lanes around noon on Wednesday, May 24. Thank you for your patience while we worked to fix this important route through our City. We are very grateful that we were able to get the contractor in town just days after we were informed of the incident, that they brought enough supplies and crew members to work 24/7, and that by the time they were able to put eyes on the damage, it was determined that the fix could be accomplished quicker than originally anticipated. While the bulk of the work is behind us, City staff has and will continue to work behind the scenes to track costs associated with the repair and seek full reimbursement of this project from the owner of the dredging company that damaged the bridge.
Here’s a bird’s eye view of some of the work done these past couple of days.
- What happened?
On May 11, 2023, the U.S. Coast Guard advised the City of Chesapeake that a spud barge struck the underside of the southbound span of the Rt. 168 Bypass Bridge, damaging one of the girders underneath the bridge. On May 12, City crews and structural engineering consultants inspected the bridge and confirmed the damage, then closed the outside lane.
- Is the bridge safe?
Yes, the bridge is safe to drive on and engineers are continually inspecting it to make sure it stays that way. The single lane closure helps to relieve additional weight from the affected area to avoid causing further damage to the structure.
- When will the bridge be fixed?
Fixing a bridge of this kind is going to take specialized professionals who will likely need to travel from out-of-state. At this time, we do not have an exact timeline for repairs, but it will likely take several weeks to a month. Contractors are already working on design plans to prepare for the repair.
- What about the lifts at the Great Bridge Bridge?
UPDATE: The U.S. Coast Guard has granted the City's request for limited bridge openings at the Great Bridge Bridge. The Great Bridge Bridge will remain closed to waterway traffic (open to road traffic) Monday-Friday, 7:00 - 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. At all other times the bridge will operate as normal. Please note that federal regulations require that the bridge open at any time for red flag vessels so this could still lead to bridge lifts during those periods.
- What about lifts at the Centerville Turnpike Bridge?
The U.S. Coast Guard has granted the City's request for limited bridge openings at the Centerville Turnpike Bridge. The Centerville Turnpike Bridge will remain closed to waterway traffic (open to road traffic) from 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. At all other times the bridge will operate as normal. Please note that federal regulations require that the bridge open at any time for red flag vessels so this could still lead to bridge lifts during those periods.
- Why can't you lift tolls on the Dominion Boulevard Veterans Bridge?
Tolls on the Veterans Bridge go towards repayment of the bonds that were used to fund construction of the bridge and there are strict guidelines around when the tolls can and cannot be lifted. The bond indenture precludes lifting tolls in this situation.
- Can't you change the traffic signals in the surrounding areas?
Traffic Engineering staff are regularly monitoring and adjusting the traffic signals on all of the alternate routes. Adjustments are being made both remotely and on-site. Keep in mind that traffic signal adjustments can only have a minor impact on overall traffic flow.
- Why are the lanes closed when no one is working?
The City is working alongside our engineering consultant to determine the necessary vehicle weight restrictions on the bridge during the repair project, as well as developing traffic plans to allow as much traffic as safely possible on the bridge when no work is underway. Out of an abundance of caution while these determinations and plans are being prepared, we have closed the outside lane of the southbound span to traffic until our analysis and work plans are complete. More information on changes to the traffic plan, including the potential to reopen the second lane at select times, will be released as it is confirmed.
- Why does the lane closure start so far back?
When setting up lane and road closures, traffic engineers must follow regulations from the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Because of the speed and configuration of the road at that point, the closure has to start that far back.
- Who pays for these repairs?
The City will pursue full reimbursement for repairs by working through its process with Chesapeake Risk Management and Finance staff, as it does any time there is damage to City infrastructure.
- Are trucks allowed on the bridge?
No. Due to weight restrictions and narrow traffic patterns that are in place, trucks are not permitted to utilize the southbound 168 Bypass Bridge until repairs are complete. "No Through Trucks" signs will be posted to notify trucks to utilize alternate routes. In this case, "trucks" includes anything that is a dump truck or larger (garbage trucks, semi-trucks, etc.) Smaller work trucks, box trucks, recreational vehicles, buses, and personal pickup trucks are all okay to continue to use the bridge.
- Will the two lanes of traffic remain through repairs?
No. The bridge can only have two lanes of traffic open when no work or inspections are being done. Work will generally only be done on weekdays but this is subject to change. The number one priority is getting the bridge back open to full capacity as soon as possible.