Criser Road bridge opening delayed

Construction crews work on the Criser Road bridge in Front Royal on Tuesday. The $986,075 bridge should be completed in about three weeks, according to town officials. Rain and flooding conditions have delayed the project. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – Heavy rains have delayed the expected opening of the new $986,075 Criser Road bridge by about three weeks, according to Town Manager Joe Waltz.

Waltz said the bridge is expected to open Oct. 26, while the contract calls for an Oct. 4 completion. He noted that crews lost 17 working days in July and August due to rain and another five days dealing with unexpected rock formations.

The Chevy Chase, Maryland-based Archer Western Construction began work on the bridge in May and Waltz commended the firm for its efforts in completing the bridge as soon as possible, noting that they have worked on weekends when weather permits.

Waltz said the delay boils down to creek conditions and that crews cannot perform construction when the water rises above a certain level.

He added that the new schedule has “some slack built into it” if copious rainfall continues. Still, he added that the town does not have a crystal ball to predict future weather and creek levels.

Floodwater from Happy Creek flows around the new bridge construction on Criser Road. Rich Cooley/Daily

The new 42-foot-long bridge replaces a 25-foot-long predecessor that flooded about once every 10 years. The extended length and a slight rise in height are expected to reduce flooding to about once every 25 years. The bridge will include two 12-foot-wide lanes, a 3-foot-wide shoulder and a sidewalk.

Town Engineer Robert Brown said that work completed on the bridge so far includes the demolition of the old bridge, installation of footings and abutments on both sides of the creek, and backfilling to level the ground with abutment walls.

He said that remaining construction includes installation of a storm structure that will collect water runoff, installation of slabs, and pouring of concrete sidewalks.

“There’s not a whole lot left to do. Getting the slabs on will be the major milestone,” Brown said.

Waltz said that the town appreciated citizens’ patience and apologized “for the inconvenience you have endured in the last few months.” He added that the town would keep the public updated if there are any additional delays.