Huguenot bridge ready for rush hour

By: Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - VDOT finished the annual inspection of the Huguenot bridge early helping connect Richmond and Henrico ahead of schedule.

Originally, officials expected to keep it closed through Monday evening.

Inspectors issued their stamp of approval, meaning they found no major issues that would cause them to deem it unsafe.

"It ended a lot sooner than we had anticipated," said VDOT spokesperson Dawn Eischen.

Eischen says the agency always anticipates more time for inspections, in case any problems are found.

This time around, drivers were given the green light.

That's a relief to Sarah Elliott who had a laundry list of concerns each time she drove this route.

"You're thinking 'Gee, is this the moment that the bridge is going to give out?" she said.

Elliott takes the 61-year-old bridge almost every summer weekend on their way to the pool.

"I went around on the Powhite and I swear, it took maybe five extra minutes so for your peace of mind, it's not a big price to pay," she said.

And peace of mind is what VDOT says drivers should now have.

Since inspectors did not find any deteriorated areas like the pier cap they questioned last month.

The stricter weight limits have now been lifted.

"So folks in SUVs no longer need to worry whether they can cross the bridge," said Eischen.

It won't just be a safer ride, it will also be a bit smoother.

VDOT crews took some extra time before reopening the bridge Sunday morning to patch some potholes.

"I don't want to say there are fewer potholes, but at least the ones that are there have been repaired," said Eischen.

Now Elliott says she won't feel like she's riding in an ATV.

"It's not going to be a four wheel experience to go over the Huguenot bridge," she said.

This does not mean VDOT has put off plans for building a new bridge.

The $65 million project is scheduled to begin in late October.

During construction, one lane of traffic will remain open in each direction, with occasional lane closures during off peak hours.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.