By Alex Bridges
Work to replace the bridge over Gooney Creek on U.S. 340 in Warren County should begin early next year.
The Virginia Department of Transportation announced Wednesday the state awarded a $12.7 million contract to Kanawha Stone Company, of Nitro, W.Va., last week. VDOT anticipates completion of the project in the fall 2015.
County Administrator Douglas Stanley acknowledged the project's benefits.
"We are extremely excited about seeing this project move forward despite coming in over the budget estimate," Stanley stated in an email. "Although not specifically one of our top transportation priorities, the Gooney Creek project replaces a substandard bridge and improves safety on this important corridor."
The project area lies in the South River Magisterial District represented by Supervisor Linda Glavis. The supervisor echoed Stanley's remarks and added that she appreciated VDOT incorporating suggested measures into the project aimed at improving sight distance for motorists and to provide a turn lane just north of Poor House Road.
"As Mr. Stanley stated, the replacement of the existing substandard bridge will enhance the safety of our 340 South corridor," Glavis stated in an email.
Stanley pointed out that this marks the fourth bridge replacement in the U.S. 340 corridor in the past decade. VDOT has replaced bridges at Overall, Jeremys Run and Compton. The county has worked with VDOT on these projects. Stanley said the county appreciates VDOT's support in replacing the bridges.
Crews will maintain two traffic lanes during construction with the exception of flagging operations expected to take place between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays. Crews also will maintain access to private homes and business.
The project replaces the existing bridge south of Front Royal with a wider span and includes other safety improvements to the road, according to a VDOT press release.
More than 6,500 vehicles traveled through the project area per day in 2008, VDOT information shows. VDOT expects that number to rise to 9,700 vehicles per day in 2036.
The existing, 24-foot-wide bridge built in 1936 no longer meets design standards, the release states. The new bridge and road will have two, 12-foot travel lanes and 10-foot shoulders. Wider shoulders will provide more correction space for errant vehicles and a safe place for disabled vehicles to stop, according to VDOT information. Plans also include a rumble strip to separate motor vehicles and bicycle traffic. VDOT also expect the project to improve steep approaches to the north and south of the bridge.
Specifically the project lies approximately 6/10 of a mile south of Poor House Road to 3/10 of a mile north of Poor House Road. U.S. 340 through the area consists of two, 12-foot-wide lanes with narrow shoulders and ditches. The bridge has been deemed functionally obsolete and no longer meets traffic needs.
The approaches to the bridge will be improved to meet a design speed of 60 miles per hour. Currently the road in the section meets only a speed of 30 miles an hour. The posted speed limit is 55 miles an hour.
The $13.3 million estimated cost of the project includes $10.9 million for construction, $1.2 million for preliminary engineering and $1.1 to buy rights of way from property owners.