Great Bridge Bridge needs repairs after lightning strike

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – The Great Bridge Bridge will continue to have extended lifts as crews work to repair the damage from a lightning strike.

Until the problem is fixed, the bridge will open twice a day at 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 pm, and openings could last as long as an hour. An overnight closure is scheduled Tuesday from 9:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. so crews can assess the damage. Drivers can use the Route 168 Bypass as an alternate route.

Chesapeake’s Assistant Director of Public Works, Earl Sorey, said lightning struck the bridge’s gate arm Friday evening. No one was hurt, but the strike caused damage that will mean delays for drivers and boaters.

“When that happened, that infiltrated the electrical system of the bridge, fried several of the electrical components, so at this point, we’re operating the bridge in manual mode,” Sorey said.

That means the job will take longer and require more people.

“It takes six people operating the bridge, so usually one bridge tender would operate a computer that would take care of all of these processes. We have four people operating pumps and motors, then we have two additional people operating gates, raising and lowering those, so everything happens much more slowly,” Sorey said.

The extended openings at the Great Bridge Bridge could impact other crossings.

“As boat traffic gets cued up here, when they do get through, obviously that’s going to be a longer extended opening at the next downstream bridge…We appreciate the motoring public’s patience as we work through this and get this back open as quickly as we possibly can,” Sorey said.