Great Bridge Lock down; repairs underway

Norfolk District Public Affairs
Published Nov. 6, 2013
Great Bridge Lock, Chesapeake, Va.

Great Bridge Lock, Chesapeake, Va.

NORFOLK, Va. – The Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working to repair the Great Bridge Lock after an underwater valve failed Tuesday.

While Corps officials review a plan to make inspections and repairs, the district will operate the lock in favorable wind conditions and at low tide, when the water levels of the river and canal are even.

According to Betty Waring, Norfolk District’s Operations Branch chief, divers performed a limited diagnostic inspection of the lock’s valve system Tuesday and found the concrete anchoring the valve had deteriorated.

Waring said the repair plan will include the construction of a coffer dam to dewater the valve area and perform a complete inspection of the damages.

Once the coffer dam is in place, the Corps can operate the locks on a normal schedule.

Construction of the coffer dam will take about six working days, once the district awards a contract for the work.

“We are working with our Corps division and headquarters offices to identify a funding source for the repairs,” Waring said. “The total cost will not be known until we are able to completely inspect the valve system with the coffer dam in place.”

Until the valve system is inspected, the estimated repair date is unknown.

With limited ability to open the locks, vessels have been able to transit the locks; however, there are some time delays.

Norfolk District maintains the lock, which was constructed in 1932, and conducts routine structural inspections; however, there are no standards for preventative maintenance of underwater valves, Corps officials said.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is a major inland protected route for commercial traffic, especially barges supplying fuel to the Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, Va.

Recreational vessels can continue to use the Deep Creek and South Mills Locks on the Dismal Swamp Canal, which are operational for boats that draft less than six feet.

Operators at the Dismal Swamp Canal locks reported increased vessel traffic, but no delays.

Mariners traveling along the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal can monitor marine radio channel 13 for updates, or follow the Norfolk District social media pages at or for updates on repairs.