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Chatham Bridge lanes to close for emergency repairs

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The Chatham Bridge will undergo emergency inspections the next two days because of the overweight tractor–trailer that got stuck on the span Saturday.

The rig, which was carrying a generator, weighed 81.6 tons, more than twice the 40-ton legal limit for the bridge.

Police charged the truck driver, whose name was not available on Wednesday, with driving an overweight vehicle onto the bridge, said Natatia Bledsoe, Fredericksburg Police Department spokeswoman. She said he faces $40,000 in fines because the truck was so heavy.

The bridge, built in 1941, is listed as structurally deficient.

The extreme weight of the truck concerned Virginia Department of Transportation officials, so they decided to conduct an emergency inspection, said VDOT spokeswoman Kelly Hannon.

“VDOT’s structural and bridge engineers performed a visual inspection of the bridge immediately after the overweight truck crossing, while the bridge was closed to traffic,” said VDOT’s Fredericksburg District structure and bridge engineer Annette Adams. “A full, follow-up inspection is required as a precaution to check for additional damage.”

The initial inspection did not find any “visual evidence of damage” to the bridge, Hannon said.

There will be single-lane closures during the inspections, which will take place between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The crews will use a “snooper truck,” which has an arm that extends from the bridge, so the underside of the structure can be closely inspected.

Saturday’s incident shut down the bridge for three hours.

The westbound truck driver was supposed to exit from State Route 3 business at the Blue and Gray Parkway, but he missed it and continued on the highway until he crossed the bridge into Fredericksburg, Bledsoe said.

Once the truck reached the traffic light, it got stuck trying to turn onto Sophia Street.

The bridge was closed at 9:30 a.m. so police and tow operators could help back it off of the bridge and back to eastbound Route 3.

Several blocks of Sophia and William streets and a section of the highway in Stafford had to be closed while the truck was rerouted.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436


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