Weather halts bridge work

Published 10:39 pm Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Early evening commuting motorists traverse the Nansemond River via Godwin Bridge on Wednesday. The city has suspended work to resurface the structure due to cold weather.

A Virginia Department of Transportation-funded project to resurface the Godwin Bridge on Route 17 has been suspended until the weather warms up.

Motorists on the bridge over the Nansemond River have noticed no progress on the work for some time, leaving a slightly rough roadway for much of the structure.

The $400,000 project is to replace the deck surface “because of wear and tear over the decades,” Public Works Director Eric Nielsen said.

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Work was put on hold when temperatures dropped as the resurfacing uses an “epoxy-type” material that takes longer to cure in cold weather, thus causing more delays for motorists due to lane closures.

“If you put it down when it’s 70 degrees, it takes an hour to cure,” Nielsen said. “If it’s 60 degrees, it’s two hours. If it’s 50 degrees, it’s three and a half hours.

“Our challenge was, we wanted to do the work when it was least disruptive. So we were working during the nighttime, but unfortunately that’s when it’s coldest.

“We were spending eight hours out there working, and only getting 1 ½ to two hours installation at a time.”

The contract was put on hold a couple of months ago and work will start up again in March or April, Nielsen said.

“We left it in this temporary state until we can get some warm weather,” he said, adding that most motorists probably wouldn’t notice the incomplete resurfacing.

The resurfacing job on the existing bridge could be easily completed if it could be closed until the job was done, Nielsen said. But, he added, “That would be pretty disruptive to traffic.”

The hiatus is costing taxpayers nothing extra, as the city is billed by the square yard of resurfacing, he said.

With increasing residential and commercial development in North Suffolk and nearby locations bringing more and more traffic to Route 17, Suffolk City Council is requesting state money for a second Godwin Bridge parallel to the existing one.