Bridge work misses deadline

Traffic moves along the new South Fork bridge in Front Royal on Friday afternoon. Contractors are still working to complete the project that was scheduled to be completed Friday. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – The contractor on the South Fork Bridge project missed the completion deadline Friday but should finish the work soon, state transportation officials say.

Meanwhile, motorists should expect delays along the U.S. 340-522 bridge over the South Fork of the Shenandoah River and on Strasburg Road near the new Quadrant Roadway Intersection. The Virginia Department of Transportation advises motorists wishing to enter Front Royal  take Interstate 66 and use the Linden exit instead.

The contract between VDOT and G.A. & F.C. Wagman called for the Pennsylvania company to replace the bridge and reconfigure the intersection of U.S. 340-522 and Strasburg Road by Friday.

VDOT spokeswoman Sandy Myers said Friday the agency expects the contractor to complete the paving by Dec. 15. Officials had not heard from the contractor as to why the firm    missed the deadline. Temperatures and other weather conditions influence the schedule on these types of projects. VDOT would determine any penalty assessed against Wagman for missing the contractual deadline after the project’s completion, Myers said.

VDOT warned drivers Friday to expect significant traffic congestion on U.S. 340-522/Shenandoah Avenue next week beginning Monday. Crews plan to close left or right lanes for paving and the application of  line markings from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Work must occur during the day because overnight temperatures dip too low for the asphalt and line markings.

Crews opened the new intersection to traffic last month. The final stages of the work include paving, line marking and setting up the traffic signal at the intersection.

The contractor began work on the project in December 2013 by replacing one side of the bridge, then the other. Crews recently opened all lanes on both sides of the bridge as well as part of the Quadrant Roadway Intersection. However, workers closed lanes through the intersection as they paved the road at the construction site

The contract set a construction cost at $48.4 million. Contracts usually include a monetary penalty assessed against the company when it misses the completion deadline.

The project replaces the existing bridge with a new, wider crossing and reconfigures the intersection at U.S. 340-522 and Strasburg Road. The original bridge, built in 1941, consisted of 12 spans made up of steel beams and trusses with a concrete deck. The original crossing contained four, 10-foot-wide travel lanes, with two in each direction. The bridge surpassed its 50-year design life span and, as a result of its deteriorating condition, could not support certain kinds of large, heavy vehicles, prompting a weight restriction on trucks.

The new, 1,910-foot bridge contains six lanes and space for bicycles and pedestrians. The project also includes the construction of a new, left-turn lane at 18th Street in town.