VDOT News - Fredericksburg


IMMEDIATE - 2:55 p.m.

Kelly Hannon 540-374-3344


Aug. 17, 2018

Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) bridge inspection team found structure is safe to carry vehicles of all legal weights after extensive 2-day review of key support elements

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. – The temporary 3-ton vehicle weight limit has been lifted at the Robert O. Norris Bridge over the Rappahannock River after a Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) bridge inspection team completed a thorough inspection of the bridge’s key support elements and found the structure to be safe to carry vehicles up to legal weights.

While the two-day inspection did not result in a finding of any safety concerns, VDOT bridge inspectors will be on the bridge next week to monitor and observe the structure as an additional precaution when the paving operation resumes work on Tuesday, Aug. 21 to replace the Norris Bridge travel surface.

“We are grateful for the community’s patience over the past 48 hours while we fully investigated the safety concern that was brought forward by a member of our VDOT construction team,” said Marcie Parker, P.E., VDOT Fredericksburg District Administrator. “While our inspection found that all of the key support elements on the bridge are sound, and do not require repair, we will have bridge staff present during paving work on Tuesday to watch and listen for any concerns.”

“We appreciate every driver who cooperated with the temporary lowering of this weight limit and endured a much longer ride as a result. Keeping travelers safe is our number one job, and we will always do what it takes to ensure we live up to this commitment,” Parker said.

The bridge’s previous weight limit of 45 tons has been restored, effective immediately. Message boards and detour signs are being removed on primary routes across the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula leading to the Norris Bridge, which carries Route 3 between Lancaster and Middlesex counties.

During a milling and paving operation on the bridge Wednesday, a VDOT construction inspector reported an abnormal sound that potentially indicated a safety concern with a bridge element. VDOT lowered the vehicle weight limit to 3 tons for motorist safety on Wednesday evening while it inspected the bridge.

Route 3 was reduced to a single lane on Norris Bridge. Traffic was stopped on each bridge approach in Lancaster and Middlesex counties. A pilot vehicle was used to guide one-way, alternating traffic across the structure.

Route 3 will remain reduced to a single lane on the bridge. On Saturday, milling work will resume. Milling will also continue on Sunday evening and Monday.

Norris Bridge Background

The Robert O. Norris Bridge was built in 1957. It underwent a major rehabilitation in 1996.

The bridge is 9,988 feet long and 25.9 feet wide. It is a steel truss bridge.

An average of 8,208 vehicles cross Norris Bridge each day on weekdays, and an average of 6,326 vehicles cross the bridge each day on weekends, according to a 2017 traffic count.

All state-maintained bridges in Virginia are inspected at least once every two years. The Robert O. Norris Bridge on Route 3 over the Rappahannock River receives a full inspection of all bridge elements once every two years and VDOT inspects steel tension bridges annually.

The reason for the annual inspection is that this bridge was designed with key elements that do not have any redundancy. During the last full inspection, the bridge received a rating of 5 out of 9.

Real-time updates to the weight posting status of Norris Bridge will be available on www.511Virginia.org and www.VirginiaDOT.org.


VDOT’s 14-county Fredericksburg District includes the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford in the Fredericksburg area; Northumberland, Richmond, Lancaster and Westmoreland counties in the Northern Neck; Essex, Gloucester, King & Queen, King William, Mathews and Middlesex counties in the Middle Peninsula.


Information in VDOT news releases was accurate at the time the release was published. For the most current information about projects or programs, please visit the project or program Web pages. You may find those by searching by keyword in the search Virginia DOT box above.

Page last modified: Aug. 17, 2018