CHESAPEAKE, Va. - People living in Chesapeake got a chance to learn more about the Deep Creek Bridge replacement. The Army Corps of Engineers held an informal meeting Thursday evening where people could ask questions and learn about how traffic will flow during construction.
The Deep Creek Bridge was originally built in 1934. It only has two lanes and is 20 feet wide, which can be an issue when larger trucks need to pass through. About 20 years ago, the bridge was deemed functionally obsolete, meaning the design isn't sustainable for its current use due to the inability to handle current traffic volume, speed, size or weight of the vehicles.
About 30,000 cars use it a day. The current bridge also doesn't have safety shoulders. During peak traffic hours, the community can get gridlocked, including school traffic.
Veronica and Michael Stanford attended the informal meeting. "We've been in this area for 20 years now so we've seen what that bridge, the traffic, has caused for our area and it's gotten worse."
The total cost of the bridge is $48.4 million, and $20 million comes from non-federal contributed funds. In April, right-of-way acquisition began.
"It is 100 percent designed now. We are looking at two bridges going in the same spot with five lanes," said Patrick Bloodgood with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The replacement drawbridge will be 144 feet long, 60 feet wide and have five lanes total. Approaching roadways including Moses Grandy Trail and George Washington Highway will be improved as well. There are concerns about the construction, which is set to start in late 2019.
"The control of the traffic; I think that's the most important thing we want to see. Controlling that traffic flow," said Veronica Stanford.
The timeline for the project ensures there will always be a crossing. The current bridge will remain while the new two-lane bridge is built. It's projected in late 2020, traffic will shift to the two-lane bridge. In early 2021, crews plan to demolish the old Deep Creek bridge and start building the three-lane bridge. Once that is complete, traffic will move into the five lanes.
"The direction coming off of Moses Grandy toward George Washington is the three-lane span. The two-lane will be coming in the opposite direction," said Bloodgood.
Citizens got the opportunity to ask the engineers specific questions about how their commute will be affected during the informal session. Most are just ready for traffic to get better.
"I'm excited for the new bridge and I'm glad we won't have to pay a toll," said Stanford.