Cedar Creek bridge scheduled to open Monday

The U.S. 11 replacement bridge over Cedar Creek between Strasburg and Middletown is expected to open to two-way traffic Monday.

VDOT is asking drivers to be alert for the new traffic pattern when northbound and southbound traffic on Monday begin sharing the single bridge, weather permitting.

“The locals in the area always referred to it as the double bridges,” said Shenandoah County Administrator Mary Price.

The project cost came in under the initial bid specifications — about $2 million less than the initial $10.8 million cost estimated for the project cost, said Ken Slack spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Most of the savings occurred in construction costs.

VDOT estimated construction would cost about $8.7 million. A construction contract of $6.9 million was awarded in January 2017 to Perry Engineering Co., based in Winchester. Contractors started building the new shifted temporary lanes in March 2017. They began bridge work about a month later.

VDOT had to work with the National Park Service on the project because of the Cedar Creek battlefield.

This was after Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation in 2014 voiced concern in a letter to then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe that the bridge, as originally designed, would harm the cultural landscape of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District.

A 21-acre right-of-way within the original project area is considered historic, core battlefield land, as are traces of the Old Valley Turnpike and the adjacent Daniel Stickley farm and mills deemed eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The Transportation Department then went back to the design and narrowed it.

“Anytime we do road work in the Shenandoah Valley this is something to watch for,” Slack said, referencing the numerous battlefields, old cemeteries and other historic sites in the county.

The bridge previously used separate truss bridges on U.S. 11, one bridge for southbound traffic and the other bridge for northbound traffic. Crews dismantled the northbound bridge and both lanes of traffic shifted to the southbound bridge. Construction on the new bridge began using the same footprint as the old northbound bridge.

After the new bridge opens contractors will soon start to dismantle the old southbound bridge, which traffic is currently driving on. The southbound bridge dates back to 1929.

It will be cheaper to maintain one bridge as opposed to two bridges, Slack said, adding that the age of the bridges also made it expensive to maintain.