GWYNN’S ISLAND BRIDGE STUCK BECAUSE OF HEAT

If you tried to cross the Gwynn’s Island bridge last Sunday, you may have encountered some difficulty. According to the Gazette Journal (www.gazettejournal.net) the bridge got stuck in the open position for more than an hour last Sunday because of excessive heat, backing up traffic and heating up tempers of more than a few drivers. It was finally closed after a crew from Mathews Volunteer Fire Department was called in to spray water on it in order to cool it down. The water from the fire trucks cooled down the steel grid deck enough to allow crews to force the bridge to close to boat traffic one hour and 21 minutes after it first became stuck open. Pumping equipment was staged at the bridge after that happened and into the early part of this week for a rapid response in case the problem happened again. It also happened last Summer. According to VDOT, a permanant fix will cost somewhere between $5 Million and $6 Million. Parts are slated for replacement because of wear from repeated openings and closings. The steel trusses and mechanical support members are due for rehabilitation work too, as are the bridge’s mechanical and electrical systems. In addition, one of the diesel engines will be replaced with an electric motor. The project is expected to be advertised for bids late this year or early next year. The bridge was built in 1938 and is the oldest moveable bridge in Virginia… opening to marine traffic about 3,000 times a year, averaging 12 times a day.