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Businesses struggling during pandemic and Centerville Turnpike Bridge closure

Chesapeake officials said people will need to continue following the detour signs for months after a tugboat and barge hit the Centerville Turnpike Bridge.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Chesapeake officials said the Centerville Turnpike Bridge will be closed for months after a tugboat and barge hit it in November, causing significant damage.

If you remember, the bridge just reopened after a year-long rehabilitation project to keep the bridge open for another 15 years.

“It’s unforeseen and we are doing everything we can to get through this inspection process to understand what the damage is, what steps are needed to repair it and how long that’s going to take,” explained Jason Brown with Chesapeake Public Works.

Brown said city crews can’t start the repairs until the U.S. Coast Guard and the NTSB complete their investigation on why this happened. As that happens, he said engineers and inspectors are inspecting the bridge to determine what the scope and extent of the damage is.

Brown said, “The next step for us is to actually jack the bridge up and take a long, close look at the underneath of the bridge and some of the mechanical elements that are underneath the water.”

The bridge closing is taking a big hit on local businesses, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.  At Hotrodders Café, the “OPEN” sign is on, but business is far from booming.

Owner Amber Hooker explained, “We are not going in the right direction right now. Between COVID and then the bridge, it’s just not. It makes me feel hopeless sometimes.”

Hooker said she doesn’t know how much more she can take. She said her business is at risk of shutting down.

“You get to a point where you have to call it and decide whether you want to continue to suffer or make a change,” she explained.

Hooker said she’s already lost about 25 percent of sales since the Centerville Turnpike Bridge closed on November 14.

“People not coming this way,” she explained. “They have to drive around you just don’t get the same business that you do.”

Hooker said now, more than ever, support local.

“I want to ask the community to help us. To help every business in this area to get through this because it’s going to take the community to do it,” she said.