A public hearing on Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) plans to replace one of the busiest bridges in the county is scheduled for Wednesday, March 24 at Rappahannock County High School.
Like a separate planned bridge project on Rt. 729 at Battle Run (for which a VDOT public hearing will most likely be held in May), VDOT is hoping to save money and time by closing the U.S. 522 bridge over the Thornton River in Sperryville for a few months, rather than “working under traffic.” The closure is planned for the summer, most likely in 2012, to lessen impact on school traffic.
In “under traffic” projects, VDOT spokesman Lou Hatter said, part of the bridge is closed while work proceeds on the other part. Done that way, what is now budgeted as a three- to four-month, $2.3 million project would take an extra six months and additional $975,000 to complete.
VDOT plans to completely replace the trestle-style bridge, originally built in 1929 and worn down by a significant amount of commercial traffic, including tractor trailers and other trucks. The bridge is “structurally deficient and functionally obsolete,” VDOT says. Its “sufficiency rating” is 45.3 out of 100, placing it just below halfway between “very good” (100) and “poor” (zero).
Hatter said VDOT staff and engineers will be at the public hearing to answer questions, and to hear what residents have to say about the possible detours, which include relatively narrow bridges on Main Street and Water Street.
“We’re planning on doing a real outreach effort,” Hatter said. “If the decision is made to [use those less accessible roads as detours], we would have to put up signs, very much in advance, probably all the way back to Culpeper and Madison, to make sure the trucking community knows what’s ahead, and can plan accordingly.”
The hearing at the high school March 24 is at 5 p.m.