Cypress Creek Bridge work delayed to Jan. 22

Published 9:06 am Thursday, January 11, 2024

The start of a nearly two-year rehabilitation of the Cypress Creek Bridge by Smithfield Station has been delayed to Jan. 22.

The Virginia Department of Transportation, in December, had announced the work would begin Jan. 3 after approving Smithfield’s request to delay the project until after the holiday season and to restrict the bridge to one-way traffic headed into the town’s historic district during construction.

VDOT spokeswoman Kelly Alford said her department finalized traffic plan revisions for one-way travel last week. The new start date is subject to change baked on weather and other factors, Alvord said.

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Town Manager Michael Stallings said eastbound traffic headed out of the historic district will be detoured to the Route 10 Bypass at its intersection with Main Street once the lane closure begins. For the duration of the construction, the bridge will be restricted to a single lane of westbound traffic headed into the historic district.

Crofton Construction Services, which VDOT awarded an $8.6 million contract for the bridge work in September, had originally planned to maintain two-way traffic during construction by imposing alternating lane closures controlled by a temporary traffic signal. Smithfield Mayor Steve Bowman contacted state Sen. Emily Brewer, R-Isle of Wight, in November along with Virginia Secretary of Transportation W. Sheppard “Shep” Miller III, asking for a one-month delay of the project’s originally planned Dec. 4 start date. Around the same time, Isle of Wight Volunteer Rescue Squad Chief Brian Carroll and Town Councilman Randy Pack, who’s also co-owner of the Smithfield Station restaurant, hotel and marina at the west end of the bridge, began pushing VDOT to dispense with the alternating closures in favor of one-way traffic.

Carroll said alternating lane closures could have delayed ambulance response times, as the two-lane stretch of South Church Street that adjoins the west edge of the bridge isn’t wide enough to allow an ambulance to pass if traffic is at a standstill.

The construction will entail demolishing and replacing multiple bridge spans, rehabilitating the remaining structure and replacing the bridge’s sidewalks, barriers and water utility components. The circa-1975 bridge serves as one of two ways in and out of the town’s historic district.

For the duration of the construction, the lane that remains open will be narrowed to 11 feet wide and be closed to all wide-load vehicles. Access to private property and businesses on South Church Street will be maintained at all times. Marine-based construction activities are not expected to restrict water or channel access on Cypress Creek.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 1:08 p.m. with additional details from VDOT’s announcement.