NORFOLK, Va. — If you’ve ever traveled to or from downtown Norfolk, you’ve probably crossed the Berkley Bridge. In fact, hundreds of thousands travel across the bridge daily. 

“We also have maritime traffic doing business here also,” VDOT’s Daren Williams said.  

When boats and ships reach a certain size, then the bridge must lift to allow the maritime traffic to pass below. Daytime lifts only happen at certain predetermined times set by VDOT: 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Any boats that plan to pass during daylight hours must alert VDOT ahead of time.  

The bridge does not open at all those times every day and some days it does not open at all. 

Williams notes that the evening and overnight plan for bridge lifts is different, “all other hours between 7 p.m.-5 a.m. is open to maritime traffic on demand.” 

You may have noticed the tower sitting high above the bridge. That’s where the bridge lifts are initiated and completed. 

The person in the tower goes through a series of controls to lower the safety blockades for drivers and then sends the normally horizontal road into the sky. Large ships move through before the road returns to its normal state and road traffic continues.  

These bridge lifts don’t add much time to the commute and VDOT warns “everyone to be patient and not try to run the lights and not cause any additional accidents and think of safety.” 

The Berkley Bridge connects multiple communities in Coastal Virginia by land and by sea. 

Williams notes that the Berkley Bridge is “the heart of South Hampton Roads.”

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