Virginia Department of Transportation didn’t complete its inspection of the Robert O. Norris Bridge on October 26 as expected. The work period had to be extended because of weather delays caused by Tropical Storm Michael.
The Norris Bridge has been subject to a string of maintenance and repair activities that have stretched well over a year, with efforts often overlapping, which is currently the case.
VDOT is wrapping up its routine top-to-bottom assessment, which every bridge in the state gets every two years.
Among other things, this inspection determines the bridge’s rating. As it stands, the Norris Bridge is rated as a five, which means it’s in fair condition. The primary structural elements are sound but there may be minor section loss, cracking, deterioration of the surface or erosion of the soil. The bridge has been rated in that range since the 1990s.
After the work is completed, it generally takes about a month for the bridge inspection report to come back. The updated rating will be made available to the public.
Because the Norris Bridge is considered a fracture critical bridge, it also gets a separate annual inspection of key elements, such as its pin and hanger system. That assessment is also being conducted.
With two inspections and the fact that the Norris Bridge is nearly two miles long, that’s part of the reason that these efforts were projected to take about four weeks, said Kelly Hannon, communications manager for VDOT’s Fredericksburg district. VDOT generally tries to schedule the inspections after the summer tourism season. And this time, they wanted to schedule the work in October to follow the milling and paving project that ended in August.
With the delays, VDOT now anticipates that the inspection work will be complete in the week of November 5-9. But motorists will still notice a barge in the water under the bridge. That’s there for pin work, which will continue.