Two lanes closed overnight 95 South - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Two lanes closed overnight 95 South

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - There will be two lanes closed on I-95 south between Lombardy Street and Belvidere Street until 6 a.m. on Thursday morning due to work for the ongoing bridge restoration project.

The work on Wednesday night is the first in a string of work that resumed for the first time on Wednesday following a near deadly accident last October.

In October, a steel beam (described by VDOT as sheet pile) came crashing down across all three lanes of traffic on Interstate 95 south near the Boulevard.

Since then, all work involving these steel beams has been suspended. On Wednesday, that work resumed for the first time. VDOT crews have put in new safety measures and have the go-ahead for the work to resume.

It's hard to forget the image: A huge beam lying across three lanes of traffic. Dozens of cars stopped ended up stopping behind it.

But Gertrude Clark's car hit this beam. In fact-- she narrowly missed losing her life. "It's something you never forget. Just coming down the highway and something falls out of the sky."

She wore a neckbrace, dealt with the pain and missed days of work. Since that fateful day -- work on the beams had been called off.

A preliminary investigation showed the gripping pressure of the teeth on this green machine to drive these beams into the ground was below normal.

"It's taken us several months for us to tell the contractor that yes, we believe that the safety measures are okay," said Dawn Eischen with VDOT.  

Here are some of those measures, okayed by VDOT:  making sure the right and center lanes are closed, like we saw Wednesday night; Positioning the crane closer to the work being done; and adding a secondary restraint.

On Wednesday --US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood got an up close glimpse of the entire bridge project. "Safety is our number 1 priority in the DOT. We wake up everyday thinking about safety. No one knows more about safety than construction workers."

Tonight, no one hopes these changes make the site safer, than Gertrude Clark.

Overall, the major bridge restoration project, scheduled to be finished by the fall of 2014 is on schedule. In fact, crews tell us they are able to get more work done this winter than usual because of the warm winter season we are having.  

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