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.
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There are many variables that effect the exact time for a bridge closure; however, most do not exceed 10 minutes.
During restricted rush hour periods, lifts are limited to commercial vessels with a 2-hour 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 (PDF).
Please note that a restricted period of (for example) 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. means that the last opening for a waterway user may occur just before 7 a.m. (and run 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.
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.
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 Travel Advisories page and sent out through the Public Works Twitter page.
The VA Department of Transportation (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).
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.
Yes, certain bridges and overpasses throughout the City have weight restrictions. The Bridge Condition Rating and Weight Restrictions Map has this information mapped out.
All boaters are asked to keep their radios tuned to Channel 13 in order to communicate with bridge tenders.