Bridge work may close street

Published 12:15 pm Wednesday, August 24, 2016

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Repairs on the Cypress Creek bridge in downtown Smithfield could include a partial or complete shutdown of the span next to Smithfield Station.

However, a VDOT official reporting on the need for repairs did not say how long the project could take.

The bridge is considered structurally deficient and replacing three spans on the western end is necessary, Joe Lomax, Franklin residency administrator told the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors Thursday.

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Lomax said another option would be to do the repairs with signalized two-way traffic, but that would just prolong the length of the project. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

‘A partial or complete closure is preferable because the work can be done more quickly, he said.

The work is scheduled for 2020, but can be pushed up to 2018 if funds become available, Lomax said.

Smithfield Town Council member Randy Pack, who is also co-owner of Smithfield Station — located next to the bridge — said the council does not know if it can prevent VDOT from completely shutting down the bridge during construction.

Not only would it have a significant negative impact on downtown businesses, it’s also a safety issue because it only leaves the Route 10 bypass available to reach the other side of town.

A similar situation arose, albeit briefly, in 2006, when flooding from a northeaster cut off both the Cypress Creek bridge and the bridge next to the Cypress Creek pond on the bypass.  Downtown Smithfield was cut off from the other side of town and beyond until the waters subsided. 

Pack also pointed out that tourists would not be aware that the bridge is closed, causing more confusion.

“Shutting it down completely would be a nightmare,” Pack said.

The ideal situation is to have one or two lanes, if possible, remain open, Pack said.

Just because a bridge is structurally deficient does not mean it is in danger of collapse or is unsafe, according to VDOT.

The rating is determined through a zero to nine-point scale, and if one of three parts — the deck, the beams or foundations and posts — is rated at four or less, then it is considered structurally deficient, according to the National Bridge Inspection Standards as provided by VDOT.

A “four” rating means the bridge is experiencing advanced section loss, deterioration, spalling or scour. Spalling refers to deterioration of the concrete surface and scour is soil erosion.

Bridges rated three or less are considered serious, critical or in an imminent failure condition.

The Cypress Creek bridge was built in 1975.  {/mprestriction}