Huguenot Bridge closed for 4-day safety inspection

By Tara Morgan & Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Huguenot Bridge in western Richmond closed at 7:30 Friday morning for a safety inspection, leaving people and businesses scrambling to deal with the four-day closure.

Thousands of drivers will have to use alternate routes through Monday. VDOT estimates that more than 28,000 drivers use the bridge each day. Businesses have fielded calls from customers asking about the detours. Some commuters say they'll put up with the inconvenience for their safety.

VDOT contracted crews to work for weeks to fix the weight restricted bridge and now the inspection is picking back up again, with a 40-ton truck called the "Snooper Truck".

"This truck it allows the inspectors to sit on a piece of the truck that actually sits over and under the bridge," says VDOT's Dawn Eischen.

To do that, the bridge must close. But the problem is... More problems like the one they found weeks ago could pop up. And that would mean more emergency repairs.

"Hopefully, fingers crossed, we won't have any other repairs that are needed and we can take the weight limit off the bridge," says Eischen.

In preps for the closure, nearby businesses warned their customers, so it wouldn't hurt their bottom line.

But bottom line for Alicia is simply put. "At the end of the day, the inconvenience has nothing to compare to being able to spend time with your family," says driver Alicia Palmore.

On the eve of the four day bridge closure, commuters and business owners set aside some patience. But that may be easier said than done.

"We're a convenience society, convenient based. If anything is not convenient we're not going to do it," said Adam Duncan.

John Hauserman uses the Huguenot Bridge for both work and play.

"I probably use it three to four days a week," said Hauserman.

Starting Friday, VDOT will look for signs of deterioration on the 61-year-old structure. Just last week, VDOT finished emergency repairs on a problem discovered in June.

"You worry about it, but I trust VDOT to a certain extent to make sure we're safe," said Hauserman.

On the north side of the bridge is the Virginia Eye Institute. Staff there has taken steps are aware of the detours for the bridge closure to make sure they make their Friday and Monday appointments.

"Our personnel began to call all of our office patients who were scheduled to visit us tomorrow, explained the situation, and answered any questions they might have," said Chris Carney, Chief Executive Officer for the Virginia Eye Institute.

Jeffrey Lee at nearby Mosaic Café is a little concerned about what typically is a busy time.

"This is more of a destination location so alot of people already plan to come to Mosaic however we do get last minute traffic. We're hoping we don't get affected that much," said Lee.

Detours are clearly posted, but include the Willey Bridge and River Road. Again the bridge closure begins at 7:30 Friday morning and won't reopen until late Monday.  

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