VDOT investigating safety of new grid on James River Bridge


by 13News


Posted on July 3, 2013 at 12:45 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 3 at 6:01 PM

NEWPORT NEWS-Six months after a new grid deck was installed on the James River Bridge lift, the Va. Dept. of Transportation is investigating safety concerns.

Many drivers had complained they didn't feel safe going over the old draw bridge when the span became a four-lane bridge in the 1980s.

The Isle of Wight Sheriff's office said they've responded to 35 crashes on the bridge this year, which is nearly the same number of crashes reported to the state DMV in all of 2012. 

On Monday, 20-year-old Kayla Williams died after crashing her car on the bridge. That crash, along with dozens more this year, have caught the attention of VDOT.

A VDOT spokesman says the agency launched an investigation into the bridges safety in May.

Spokeswoman Brooke Growe says, "While the investigation is ongoing, we have posted advisory recommendations to reduce the speed on the bridge during inclement weather to 10 miles per hour lower than the posted speed of 55 MPH."

She said the electronic message boards on the bridge will light up with the messages: "Caution Grid Deck Ahead. Reduce Speed 45 MPH" and those signs are activated to this message by the bridge tender during inclement weather conditions.

Growe added that VDOT will review the results of its evaluation to determine what actions are necessary.

Last year, VDOT replaced the steel grid with a completely new structure. The $3.8 million project was completed ahead of schedule, VDOT said.