By Alex Bridges
BENTONVILLE -- A new bridge on Indian Hollow Road in Warren County should open on time this fall, state transportation officials say.
Construction continues on the $4.4 million project to replace the single-lane bridge over the South Fork of the Shenandoah River with a wider, longer and higher two-lane crossing. Virginia Department of Transportation spokesman Ken Slack said Monday the project remains on schedule for an October completion.
"The bridge will be substantially wider than the existing one but I think it's going to fit the uses out there a lot better than what you have out there right now," Slack said.
At 14 feet higher than the current bridge, the new crossing shouldn't fall victim to frequent wash-outs that close the span and force motorists to take detours.
South River District Supervisor Linda Glavis said Tuesday that she and her constituents are excited to see the bridge reach completion. Glavis said she has not heard any complaints about the project so far. Many residents participated in the design process by providing input to VDOT, Glavis recalled. As a result of that participation, VDOT added the pedestrian path into the bridge design, she noted. Glavis said that people in the area who use the current crossing are excited to see the new bridge completed.
The project replaces the existing bridge built in 1923 with a two-lane crossing. The current 266-foot bridge will be replaced with a 320-feet long, 34-feet-wide span. The new bridge lies approximately 50 feet upstream.
A shorter bridge built in 1918 that lies near the longer crossing and goes over an abandoned water channel will be replaced with two culverts.
VDOT no longer replaces single-lane bridges with similar crossings except in cases where the local government specifically requests the agency not increase the capacity, Slack explained. Current design standards call for two-lane bridges and VDOT tries to build new crossings outside the dangers of floodwater.
Efforts by the county and VDOT to replace the single-lane, low water bridge on Morgan Ford Road, in the Shenandoah District, have been met with some opposition by some neighboring residents who say a higher, wider crossing would negatively impact the view and likely would lead to more traffic. Slack noted the similarities and differences between the projects for Indian Hollow Road and Morgan Ford Road.
"There are certainly different kinds of challenges with each project," Slack said.
The project area for the Indian Hollow Road bridge incorporates land managed by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the U.S. Forest Service. The U.S. Forest Service is covering the cost of the project. Va. 613 and the bridge serve a rural farming area that includes several homes, a canoe-rental business and a campground.
VDOT traffic counts in 2009 showed an average 228 vehicle trips per day on this section of Indian Hollow Road and the bridge. VDOT projects this number to increase to 236.
Traffic data collected in the project area in 2012 showed an average of 260 vehicle trips per day.
Slack explained that while the latest traffic count is higher than the projected average, the level of detail in data collected on secondary routes such as Indian Hollow Road is often not as great as information from roads that see higher traffic volumes. Slack also noted that the raw traffic data collected over only a few days likely could change from year to year, depending on the time of year and weather.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org