RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond-Henrico Turnpike/Meadowbridge Road will be closed for six weeks at the Henrico-Hanover County line for repairs.
The Henrico County Department of Public Works said repairs will begin on Monday, Feb. 18 at 9 a.m.
“We have to repair this bridge at the Chickahominy River that has suffered because of the severe weather we had in 2018,” said Henrico Public Works Director Steve Yob.
The road is set to remain closed through Sunday, March 31.
“It's certainly going to be an inconvenience," Yob added.
Traffic data from Henrico County shows nearly 10,000 cars traveling the stretch of the Richmond-Henrico Turnpike on a daily basis.
That means while construction is underway all of those car will have to seek alternative routes to get back on the turnpike.
"It's going to add like 15 minutes onto my route every day, so twice a day which is 30 more minutes," said Jeni Turlington.
Northbound traffic from Richmond-Henrico will be detoured onto Azalea Avenue, Carolina Avenue and East Laburnum Avenue to Mechanicsville Turnpike, which connects to Meadowbridge by Atlee Road.
Southbound traffic will be detoured from Meadowbridge to Atlee.
Drivers said they're not looking forward to a change in their routine, but understand the work is necessary.
“Every time it rained that road would be closed because of flooding,” said Tony Burris. “My feelings are that it should have been fixed a long time ago.”
“The river does get up to the point it covers the road sometimes,” Yob added.
The County realized the need for this bridge repair after heavy rains in May and damage caused during Tropical Storm Michael in October.
“The road was nearly cut in half and we had to do some extensive repairs and close the road for some time,” Yob said.
In order to further investigate the damage, the County sent civil engineers into the river in diving gear to assess the bridge and discovered something they weren’t expecting.
“This bridge is actually a 1950′s era bridge that’s supported by timber piles, those aren’t even used today,” Yob said. “Some of those timber piles have suffered some scour, or some soil erosion, from the force of the river. What we have to do now is close the bridge, drive some sheet piling [into the soil]. Once the sheet piling is in place we’ll trim the concrete in, we’ll stabilize this bridge and get it back in service."
“It does need to be fixed because a lot of traffic goes down that road,” said Ashley Rawls, who travels the road daily.
The six-week time-table is all weather dependent, but contractors also need to assess what they’re dealing with once construction begins.
“One of the issues is once we really get the sheet piling driven and be able to excavate and see what the problem is, in other words, until we start performing the surgery on the bridge, we won’t know what all the repairs will be,” Yob said.
The construction is expected to cost hundreds-of-thousands of dollars and would come out of the budget for road improvements.
Crews also hope to have this construction completed before a potentially rainy Spring and the heavy tourist season.