CHESAPEAKE, Va. — The Centerville Turnpike Bridge has had its share of repairs. The city scheduled a restoration in 2019, followed by unexpected repairs when a barge crashed into the bridge last November.
Problems persist for the more than 60-year-old traffic lifeline between Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.
On Sunday, Chesapeake Public Works Coordinator Jason Brown said the bridge got stuck in the open position and backed up traffic for almost two hours.
“Our bridge engineers tell me the issues are an electrical issue that they are still trying to determine and investigate what the cause of that is,” Brown said.
While crews troubleshoot the issue, Brown said they’ve cut back openings to three times a day.
“Normally the Centerville Turnpike Bridge opens on the hour and half hour throughout the weekdays,” Brown said.
Traffic is flowing, but Brown said drivers should plan around the scheduled openings at 6 a.m., 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. because it may take longer to get more boats through.
Whenever the bridge goes down, Chesapeake resident Jeff Crisp said he has to take the long way around.
"I have to go take the bypass around and then Mount Pleasant, they are doing work on Mount Pleasant, so that slows everything down also," Crisp said.
The city does have a replacement idea in the works. After surveying the community, Brown said a high rise is ideal.
“Eventually having four-way roadways, aligned just to the east of the existing bridge,” Brown said. “With a 65-foot fixed span bridge that crosses the canal.”
But he said a new bridge like this will cost anywhere between $200 million to $250 million and take a decade or more to develop.
“This is a project that is going to take several years for us to continue to develop, for us to seek funding and obviously for us to have an ongoing dialogue with the community as we move closed to construction,” Brown said.
The timeline is long, but Crisp believes a better bridge is worth the wait.
“I will be here for the long-term, so yeah a long-term solution would be nice,” Crisp said.
Officials told 13News Now they started a study on bridge replacement ideas back in 2018. They will keep city social media pages updates when the electrical issue is fixed, and bridge opening times return to normal.