Jordan Bridge History


Before the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge, there was the original Jordan Bridge (pictured at left).

The Jordan Bridge was located at Poindexter Street in South Norfolk, west of I-464, and crossed the Southern branch of the Elizabeth River. Before it closed, it was the oldest-operating lift bridge in the commonwealth. Originally known as the Norfolk-Portsmouth Bridge, it was completed at a cost of $1.25 million. It opened on August 24, 1928, as a toll bridge with a ceremony attended by Governor Harry F. Byrd.

At the time, most felt that the bridge had done more to change the map of the Tidewater region than any other development that had taken place since the first settlers landed. Norfolk, being virtually an island, had been connected with Portsmouth only by ferries since the early Colonial days. The Jordan Bridge made possible the first continuous highway between Norfolk, South Norfolk (now a part of Chesapeake) and Portsmouth, and from Richmond to the sea.

A Waddell & Harrington vertical lift drawbridge, the Jordan Bridge was designed by Harrington, Howard & Ash of Kansas City, Missouri. The construction was planned and financing organized by South Norfolk businessman Carl M. Jordan, who operated Jordan Brothers Lumber Co. with his brother Wallace. The bridge was renamed for Carl Jordan many years later. He also served as general manager and executive vice president of the South Norfolk Bridge Commission, Inc., a non-profit corporation organized in 1944 to manage the bridge. Ownership of the bridge was transferred to the City of Chesapeake after the Bridge Commission’s indebtedness was finally satisfied in 1977.

The Jordan Bridge, closed temporarily for repairs in 1994, was reopened to traffic in December 1995 with a 50-cent toll. On October 14, 2008, Chesapeake City Council voted to shut down the bridge effective November 8, 2008, due to structural deterioration and lack of funding for repairs. Figg Bridge Developers submitted plans for a new privately-funded Jordan Bridge, that also included removal of the closed facility, and was approved unanimously by Council on January 27, 2009. The modern South Norfolk Jordan Bridge is the result of that effort and opened to traffic in late October 2012.