VDOT addresses “structurally deficient” bridges in Hampton Roads

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — You may not think much about it but we have a lot of bridges around Hampton Roads. The scary part is a lot of them are suffering from old age.

A study from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association said eight percent of the bridges in Virginia are structurally deficient. Five of those were listed in Hampton Roads. According to VDOT, that may not be accurate. A spokesperson said the state agency fixed four of them last year.

From the look of the Denbigh Boulevard Bridge to the name of its status, “structurally deficient,” nothing about it sounds good.

“Structurally deficient really doesn’t have anything to do with the safety of the structure,” VDOT structure engineer Chris Eggleston said. “It’s more of a term we use to identify maintenance needs and priorities for us, but absolutely there’s no question of safety ever.”

Eggleston said the same goes for the four others on the list.

“If you’re driving under the bridge and you see the girders or the beams supporting the bridge deck underneath,” he explained of the damage. “We had some impact damage to those girders.”

In Virginia Beach damage was found at the section of I-264 over Lynnhaven parkway. In Hampton it’s a section of I-64 before the HRBT headed east. In Norfolk there are two sections of I-64 over Northampton. However, Eggleston said those bridges are no longer a problem.

“Those four have actually been repaired already with Denbigh Boulevard under design,” he said. “It will be scheduled for replacement in 2018.”

The main issue isn’t poor construction it is age. Each Hampton Road’s bridge on the list is 40 years or older. In order to keep up with their maintenance, the Commonwealth stepped in last year.

“House Bill 1887 takes the first 45 percent of all monies going in for new construction and puts it to these types of projects, and bridge replacement is a big part of it,” Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne said.

It’s a plan to bridge the age gap, over time.

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