Free weekend trips with E-ZPass on Virginia's new South Norfolk Jordan Bridge
By Peter Samuel
2012-07-19: "Free Fall Weekends for E-ZPass Drivers" is the marketing slogan at the new South Norfolk Jordan Bridge in the Hampton Roads VA area. It is an offer intended both to encourage motorists to get transponder accounts, and to have trial runs on what will be a new route for many. (NOTE: we've given this a FOLLOW-ON and more prominence because of the company reaction to it as a BRIEFS item - editor)
The $140m, 5,375ft long, 150ft high bridge over the Elizabeth River's southern branch is being built as a privately held toll operation. It replaces a shonky old 1928 lift bridge owned by the City of Chesapeake that was notorious for long shipping closures and increasingly restrictive weight limits. The old clunker lift bridge carried traffic for the last time November 8, 2008, and has been demolished and removed.
They want to encourage local people to try out their soaring, sleek new span. Weekends through late summer and fall they'll forgo the $2.00 toll for people who already have a local E-ZPass transponder or who activate a new one by August 31.
Double edged term
"Free fall" is a slightly dicey marketing phrase given the construction accident June 21 which caused the free fall of huge precast concrete box girder elements that delayed the opening of the bridge from the previously planned July 16.
The accident has never been fully described, or explained by the bridge company - and we're told probably won't be for some time - because of insurance issues and possible litigation.
Our assessment based on pictures and publicly available information was published here: http://www.tollroadsnews.com/node/6054
No new date for opening
There is no new date set for the opening but the company and contractors are working hard to recover.
Both steel erection trusses damaged in the incident have been demolished. Experts placed explosive charges to bring down the steel in a planned free fall - punctuated by a loud boom - July 7.
Clean-up is done.
New truss segments are arriving.
Eleven new precast concrete box girder segments are being cast and delivered to replace those damaged in the accident. That is about half the segments needed for the span that was under construction, the 4th last of 35 spans in the bridge.
The spans are independent of one another so the rest of the bridge spans weren't affected. Also fortunately nobody was seriously hurt.
The bridge company bears the costs of the accident and delays because there is no public money in the project.
A press release issued today urges locals to:
"Pick up your E-ZPass today at the brand new E-ZPass Service Center located inside the Chesapeake DMV at 813 Greenbrier Parkway, across from Chesapeake City Park. Hours are 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday, and 8 am to noon on Saturday. New accounts also can be activated online at www.EZPassVA.com, or call 1-877-762-7824 to order an E-ZPass by mail."