VDOT closes lane of bridge for emergency repairs

Traffic drives around fallen debris from work being done on the Interstate 81 bridge over Water Plant Road south of Middletown on Tuesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – Emergency work on Interstate 81 northbound near Interstate 66 could create traffic delays through Wednesday.

The Virginia Department of Transportation closed the right lane on the highway at mile marker 299.8 on Tuesday afternoon so crews could make emergency repairs to the bridge deck. VDOT officials expect to keep the lane closed through 7 a.m. Wednesday. VDOT spokeswoman Sandy Myers said Tuesday that crews might need to close the left lane at the site to finish the repairs if necessary.

Motorists might consider using U.S. 11 as an alternate route by taking Exit 298 at Strasburg. Motorists then can follow U.S. 11 north and rejoin I-81 at Exit 302 at Middletown. Drivers who need to take I-66 can follow I-81 south to Exit 300.

VDOT determined that the crossing needed repairs following an inspection conducted Tuesday morning on the bridge over state Route 840 (Water Plant Road) in Warren County near the Shenandoah County line.

“Well, this is something that we’ve had an eye on for a while,” Myers said. “It was the bridge deck; it had some weakness in it.”

A construction worker stands above this section of the bridge that crews were jackhammering Tuesday afternoon over Water Plant Road in Middletown. Rich Cooley/Daily

Crews dug a hole in the deck that they need to fill with concrete. However, the concrete can only cure under certain temperatures. Concrete can’t cure in cold temperatures, Myers explained.

“We happened to look at the bridge today – we always look – they looked at it today and they determined it really needed to be done now,” Myers said. “We’ve got a great window here in the next 48 hours. The temperatures are good and so they are proceeding.”

Repairs might extend to the other side of the bridge but VDOT hasn’t determined when crews would need to close the left lane.

“They’re probably going to have to do something on the left lane, too,” Myers added. “They’re not going to know the extent of the work until they get in there today into the right lane to begin the repairs. But we anticipate the other side of the bridge having to close (today) when they’re going to have to do some additional work. We just don’t know how long that’s going to be or the extent of that work yet.”

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

Traffic backs up along Interstate 81 at the 298 exit at Strasburg while crews make emergency bridge repairs at the 299 mile marker Tuesday afternoon. Rich Cooley/Daily

Traffic moves around debris on Water Plant Road south of Middletown on Tuesday while contractors made emergency repairs to the Interstate 81 bridge overhead. Rich Cooley/Daily