CHESAPEAKE - The South Norfolk Jordan Bridge had its grand opening during Hurricane Sandy. Now, at the end of the first work-week, officials couldn't be happier with the numbers.
"Thousands of vehicles have already enjoyed this improved route that had been closed since late 2008," said spokesman Kevin Crum. "Traffic has increased each day as the community gets familiar with the commonwealth’s first fully electronic toll facility."
The span between Chesapeake and Portsmouth over the southern branch of the Elizabeth River was free during the hurricane. Tolls started being collected on the afternoon of October 30.
Business owners near the bridge have felt the pinch.
"It's been very inconvenient without the bridge," business owner Shanita Mcclee said. "A lot of customers don't come because they can't cross the bridge. They were doing construction on the street also so it was really hard."
Many business owners hope increased traffic means increased business.
"Now that the bridge is open there's definitely more traffic flow," said business owner Tyrone Wilson. "I'm expecting business to pick back up."
On the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge Facebook page, many comments about the span focused on the tolls.
One post stated "I love the new SNJB. It's a very beautiful bridge & I LOVE driving over it. The tolls are a bit high, but I think I would rather pay the tolls then 2 be stuck in traffic or to get where I need to get in a hurry."
Another wrote,"Just made my 1st drive over the bridge during 'rush hour' traffic. Saw the Downtown Tunnel congested after hearing the Midtown Tunnel was bad too and opted to try the Jordan Bridge. It was great! The ride was amazing and I saved myself 20 MINUTES on my way to ODU from Suffolk!!!"
"I'm SOOOOOO suggesting a $2 PER DAY toll per vehicle (rather than PER CROSSING)... can't you make that happen?," one user queried.
Vehicles without a registered E-ZPass or Pay-by-Plate account will be sent an invoice for travel fees at $4 per crossing. Trucks and vehicles with trailers are charged at $1 per axle with surcharges during commuting hours.
Crum said E-ZPass drivers will get free travel every weekend in November starting Saturday, November 3 until November 25.