Bridge repair plans discussed at meeting

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on May 16, 2012 - 03:46 PM

At least a half dozen VDOT representatives, including several engineers, were at the Mathews Volunteer Rescue Squad building Tuesday evening to talk with residents about repairs to the Gwynn’s Island bridge planned for next year.

VDOT assistant residency administrator Joyce McGowan said the purpose of the meeting was to gather information from residents about the impact the construction project might have on them. First one lane then the other will be blocked during the six-to-nine-month project, leaving one 9’6" lane open at all times.

Vehicles wider than 9’6" won’t be able to cross the bridge during the initial stage of construction, said engineer Shahrad Behboodi. However, he said that during the later stages of the project, after repairs to certain stringers have been made, there is a possibility the open lane may be wider than 9’6".

McGowan said that she became aware of the impact on business that changes to traffic patterns on the bridge could have during a board of supervisors’ meeting last fall. At that meeting, Gwynn’s Island businessman Jason Smith objected to VDOT’s imposition of a 15-ton weight limit for tractor-trailers and a 10-ton limit for other vehicles, giving residents only a week’s notice. Smith said that the weight limit would prevent him from transporting seafood and could ruin his business. After an uproar from the public, VDOT executed emergency repairs to the bridge that brought the weight limit up to 25 tons for a tractor-trailer and increased the limit for other vehicles to an unspecified tonnage.

McGowan said she hopes to hear from businesses before the project begins so she can work with them to lessen any negative impacts during construction.