The Gwynn’s Island bridge will open to boats six times a day beginning today, June 17.
According to a press release from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) this will continue until a long-term repair project begins later this year.
The moveable swing span bridge over Milford Haven will open to boats at 2 a.m., 5 a.m., 8 a.m. 11 a.m., 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., said the release.
The scheduled bridge openings will ensure vehicles on Route 223 (Old Ferry Road) have continuous access to travel between Gwynn’s Island and mainland Mathews County, especially emergency services, said the release.
The scheduled times will allow the bridge to open to large vessels and reduce the frequency of heat-related disruptions.
VDOT suspended bridge openings to marine traffic on June 10 after the structure could not be closed properly. When the structure opens to watercraft, Route 223 closes to vehicle traffic, which leads to congestion and unpredictable travel times for Gwynn’s Island residents and visitors, and disrupts access for emergency services, said the release.
During periods of intense summer heat, the steel expands on the bridge and it becomes stuck in the open position after it opens for marine traffic, said the release. VDOT crews pump water on the bridge’s steel grid deck to cool its temperature, which allows workers to close and secure the movable portion.
The reduced hours will prolong the operational life of the moveable swing span and restore boaters’ direct access to the Piankatank River and Chesapeake Bay, said the release.
A maintenance project is scheduled to start in late 2021 that will improve the condition of the bridge’s mechanical elements connected with the moveable swing span.
Mariners can check 511Virginia for real-time updates or call VDOT Customer Service Center at 1-800-FOR-ROAD (367-7623).
Built in 1939, the bridge over Milford Haven opens to marine traffic more than any other state-maintained movable bridge in Virginia. It opens approximately 3,000 times a year.