Bridges were hot topic in 2014

Clay Roop, a carpenter for Kanawha Stone Co, Inc. of Nitro, WV builds forms for the jersey walls of the new bridge under construction on Indian Hollow Road and the South Fork of the Shenandoah River near Bentonville. The $4.4 million bridge is scheduled to be completed in mid-October. Rich Cooley/Daily

With thousands of cars and freight trucks traveling along Interstates 81 and 66 on daily basis, transportation is a subject near and dear for residents in Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren counties. In 2014, the area saw its share of accidents and tragedies; however, the biggest stories of the year were the improvements in infrastructure.

On the state level, Virginia Department of Transportation officials in October said they would start planning to replace guardrails throughout the commonwealth. The ET-Plus guardrails, produced by Trinity, did not comply with state regulations because the company had modified the approved guardrail in 2005 without telling the state. After failing to comply with a testing deadline, the company’s products were banned in the state.

Local police and the Department of Motor Vehicles started enforcing a rule July 1 that demanded moped owners obtain a title and registration for their vehicle before driving it on a state roadway. The DMV estimated about 1,800 mopeds were registered by June 2014, but believed the number of mopeds in the state was much higher.

In December, the commonwealth saw its biggest holiday travel week since AAA started collecting figures in 2001. Due to the lowest gas prices since September 2009, about 2.8 million Virginians, more than a third of the state, traveled 50 miles or more during the holiday season from Dec. 23 to Jan. 4.

Here’s more transportation news, by county, over the past year:

Warren County

Strasburg Road, also known as Virginia 55 East, was not included in the state’s $13.1 billion road program. The winding, hilly road sees about 13,000 vehicles a day and is estimated to cost $20 million to repair.

The Gooney Creek bridge replacement project chugged along this year, with contractors installing concrete pipes under the road in July.

The Morgan Ford Road bridge replacement project suffered further delays, as VDOT and other agencies could not reach an agreement on the project. Before construction could begin, VDOT needed an agreement signed with the Federal Highway Administration and the Department of Historic Resources in order to conduct an environmental study, which is necessary before holding a public hearing. The project has received push back from some residents in the area who say a new bridge would attract more traffic and negatively impact the area.

Indian Hollow Road bridge near Bentonville opened to traffic in October. The bridge replaced a one-lane, low-water bridge and a narrow crossing with a two-lane span that includes a pedestrian and bicycle path. Kanawha Stone Company Inc., of Nitro, West Virginia completed the $4.41 million project financed through the federal Forest Highway Fund.

Shenandoah County

The weight limits on the Artz Road Bridge was reduced from 10 tons to 5 tons in August. The limit will be lifted once a new low-water bridge is built a half-mile east of the intersection of Artz Road and U.S. 11. VDOT said its ongoing inspection program “revealed increased structural deficiencies” in the present bridge.

The town of Strasburg got some new pavement, as construction crews repaved King Street in July, as a part of the town’s Streetscape Project plan. VDOT also installed traffic sensors at the intersection of Holliday and King as well.

Meem’s Bottom Bridge saw some repairs in July after a tractor-trailer failed to squeeze under the bridge’s roof. The bridge, near Mount Jackson on Wilser Road and one of five covered bridges in Virginia, is the longest timber-covered bridge in the state and is the only one of its kind in the state road system that is still open to vehicular traffic.

Frederick County

A portion of University Drive in Winchester, extending from Millwood Avenue to the Lowry Tennis courts, was closed in June for realignment. The closure lasted four months and included enhancements to improve traffic flow in the area, as well as storm water management improvements.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com