Progress 2015: Building bridges

Warren County officials have the replacement of the low water bridge at Morgans Ford as one of their top priority items for 2015. Rich Cooley/Daily

Despite what the “Jetsons” would lead viewers to believe, in 2015 motorists are still filling up their cars with gasoline and driving to work, school, church or the grocery store on good ole fashion pavement.

This year, the Virginia Department of Transportation has a lot planned to make driving an easier and safer experience, whether it is road repaving or replacing a bridge.

Ken Slack, a VDOT spokesperson, said there is “no single factor driving projects in the area.”

Probably one of the biggest projects coming to the area is the cloverleaf-like interchange to be installed near Kernstown at Exit 310 off of Interstate 81. With construction set for this month by CTB, a Warrenton-based construction firm, the $25 million “spread diamond” interchange will be built to accommodate a future cloverleaf if necessary. The project is set for completion in May 2018.

Slack said the project is the result of high traffic in that area.

A surveyor for G.A. & Son F.C. Wagman Inc. of York, Pa., plans for the next phase of the South Fork of the Shenandoah Bridge construction project in Front Royal. The $48.4 million project is expected to be completed in late 2017. Rich Cooley/Daily

“That interchange there has served since the highway was built, so the traffic demand for it is just too much,” Slack said. “You got Interstate 81 coming together with Route 11 and Route 37, so we hope this project will relieve the jams we’re seeing there.”

Cliff Balderson, administrator for the VDOT Edinburg Residency, said the “reconfiguration” of the interchange is a “major project.”

“That traffic there backs up onto I-81 and on that bridge, so we hope this is going to be a major improvement,” Balderson said.

He said the main challenges for this project would be maintaining the flow of traffic on I-81.

“Everything’s going to be done under traffic,” Balderson said. “Keeping that traffic going while working on it is going to be tough, but we’re going to try and complete it with few temporary closures.”

As previously reported in the Northern Virginia Daily, many bridge replacement projects are underway in the area and some may be coming to completion in 2015. Slack said VDOT is not so much expanding its infrastructure as it is in maintaining and repair aging roads and bridges.

“We are not in a big push to create more infrastructure, as we are into replacing our aging bridges and resurfacing our roads,” Slack said. “We want to make sure our roads and bridges are safe for travel.”

The largest such project, the South Fork Bridge replacement, is still underway. Began in December 2013, the $48.4 million project, undertaken by G.A. &F.C. Wagman of York, Pennsylvania, will replace the 74-year-old bridge on Route 340 north of Front Royal with a 1,910 foot, six-lane bridge with bike lanes and sidewalks. The project is estimated to be completed in late 2017.

Balderson said the project is “on time schedule and on budget.”

The Gooney Creek Bridge replacement will be completed in fall 2015. Located on Route 340 near Poor House Road, the $12.7 million replacement will have 12-foot lanes, 10-foot shoulders and rumble strips to separate the roadway from bicyclists.

Balderson said the Gooney Creek Bridge construction on the bridge has “gone so far, so good.”

As previously reported by the Northern Virginia Daily, Warren County also saw progress on the Morgan Ford Bridge replacement project. The single-lane, low-water bridge on Morgan Ford Road, built in 1925, will be replaced at a cost of $9.71 million with a two-lane bridge. A public hearing was held for it in February and now VDOT will be conducting right of way studies before construction will start in 2016.

In Shenandoah County, the Stoney Creek Bridge replacement project is set for completion this spring. Began in 2014, the $935,116 project will replace the 14-foot wide, single-lane bridge with a 16-foot single-lane bridge. Balderson said the project is on schedule.

Ed Carter, of the Edinburg Residency, said one of tricks the contractors use to make the schedule, in this case Fielders Choice Enterprises of Charlottesville, is to stagger work according to the seasons.

“Anytime you’re working in rivers or streams, you’re limited to specific times of the year you can work in the stream,” Carter said. “So they try to take advantages of those times and when they can’t work in the stream, they’re working on the decking and above stuff.”

The Passage Creek Bridge replacement will start construction in spring 2015 on Seven Fountain Road. The $721,000 bridge will replace the single-lane, low-water 99-year-old bridge with a two-lane bridge. The bridge will take “one construction season” and be completed in 2016, Balderson said.

Here are other projects coming to the area this year:

• The bridge over Town Run on Queen Street in Strasburg will be replaced with a $1.63 million bridge with a wider sidewalk, wider roadways and a curb and gutter. Construction will begin in summer 2015 and end in fall 2016.

• Sixty-seven new parking spaces will be added to the park and ride at Dismal Hollow Road in Linden. Balderson said the park and ride is already at its 120-space capacity.

• A traffic signal will be added to the park and ride at Route 340/522 north of Front Royal. Carter said the intersection has seen a lot of accidents in recent years and qualifies for a traffic signal.

• There will be repaving on Interstate 81 in Shenandoah and Frederick counties, Carter said. He said the groundwork for the repaving was laid last year and this year the pavement will be sealed. There will be signal lane closures and the work will be conducted at night when traffic flow is reduced, Carter said.

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