MMFX2 strengthens bridge in City of Chesapeake’s Dominion Boulevard project


The City of Chesapeake began construction on the new Dominion Boulevard, U.S. Route 17, project in early January (2013). The project includes five new bridge structures; the largest is a new four-lane 95-foot-high, fixed-span bridge that will replace the current two-lane steel bridge that has spanned the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River for more than 50 years (constructed in 1962).

An average of more than 33,000 vehicles travel daily across the old steel bridge — making this one of the most traveled two-lane bridges in Virginia. The old steel bridge lifts 16 times per day and 6,000 times a year, on average. Each lift takes roughly 10 minutes, which equates to 42 days a year that the bridge cannot be crossed. The new Elizabeth River bridge will not have these congestion issues because of the expansion to four lanes and being at a height to allow ships to pass beneath.

Originally specified to use stainless steel as the corrosion-resistant reinforcement (CRR) material for the concrete deck, parapets, sidewalks and approach slabs — as dictated by the VDOT IIM-S&B-81.4 — the City of Chesapeake saw a unique opportunity to save money without sacrificing the quality and structural capacity required. They submitted a waiver request to allow for the use of MMFX2, a low carbon/chromium reinforcing steel, to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). MMFX2 is an uncoated, corrosion-resistant, high-strength rebar from MMFX Steel Corporation.

1013_online_contributed1With the approval of the waiver, the City of Chesapeake was able to reduce costs by using MMFX2 over stainless steel rebar. Further backing their belief and their decision to make the switch, the City of Chesapeake is accepting the responsibility for all future maintenance. They expect the bridge to have the same 75 to 100 years of life by using MMFX2.

MMFX Steel will supply MMFX2 60 ksi rebar to the Dominion Boulevard project. MMFX2 offers superior corrosion resistance at a lower cost than stainless steel rebar, so the City of Chesapeake can save on construction material and labor cost.

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Ranked as the top project in the region in terms of its ability to reduce congestion and improve safety by the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization, the new Dominion Boulevard will decrease congestion. The improvements will allow for fewer stops and better access, which will increase safety on the roadway. There will be no stoplights between Grassfield Parkway and the interstate with four lanes of traffic, which will improve hurricane evacuation and allow for faster public safety response times along the route.

Once construction is completed, traffic will be routed through the first two-lane span (5,982 feet) of the Elizabeth River bridge, and the old steel bridge will then be demolished. The second two-lane span (5,262 feet) will then be constructed with an anticipated completion date in early 2017.

The Dominion Boulevard project is 100-percent publicly funded by the City of Chesapeake. The entire project  will cost $345.2 million and will be supported  through a Virginia transportation infrastructure bank loan, toll revenue bonds, Virginia state and federal funds, and existing reserves and earnings.

A $1 toll will be put into effect once construction is completed. The toll revenue will be used for operations and maintenance, while also repaying the bonds and loans. The tolls will replace traditional funding for the project.

The new bridge will connect the Cedar Road to Great Bridge Boulevard with interchanges at Cedar Road, Bainbridge Boulevard/Dominion Lakes and Great Bridge Boulevard. The bridge will be a fully automated E-ZPass toll collection system.

The improved Dominion Boulevard and the existing Chesapeake Expressway will together form the Chesapeake Transportation System (CTS). The CTS will operate as a single facility, with operations being combined to reduce redundancy and overhead.

In 2010 VDOT became the first department of transportation in the United States to institute a CRR standard specifying the use of MMFX2 reinforcing steel based on its own extensive testing. Since then VDOT has fully implemented its CRR policy for all new bridge designs.

About MMFX Steel: MMFX Steel Corporation markets and sells MMFX2 concrete reinforcing steel products in North America. The company is located in Irvine, California. For more information, visit