Letter to the Editor: We want a safe bridge, not a ‘cookie cutter’ design


A March 23 commentary in the Northern Virginia Daily by Chris Manion shared some new and surprising facts on the issue of the Morgan Ford Bridge replacement in Warren County. He also shone a light on what I believe are many half-truths and untruths the chairman of the board of supervisors and the Virginia Department of Transportation have been iterating for the past several years. For example, Mr. Manion, of Rockland, whose property lies close to the bridge, suggested that it was he, in an official comment sought by VDOT, who recommended anti-flood gates be installed on either side of the bridge but that no gates were installed until after a woman died in a flood.

In another indication of his publicly proclaimed foresight, the board chairman and by extension the entire board of supervisors, failed to erect traffic calming signs recommended by Manion. VDOT did nothing and, as Manion said in his article, “two young men died when their speeding car went over the bridge into the (Shenandoah) River.” For months, the board chairman has been proclaiming these incidents as prime reasons for bridge replacement, yet he and his board, though prodded, did nothing to prevent them.

Board members have remained silent throughout this debacle, even elevating the new chairman to his lofty perch on Jan. 1 to serve out his final year in office.  Why haven’t the chairman and his cronies at VDOT told residents about the real reasons for erecting a dangerous and environmentally disastrous bridge?  I feel the board and VDOT should come clean. Second, the chairman should resign, leaving what he wants to call his “legacy” — a bridge at Morgan Ford – behind,  and third, the remaining supervisors should re-open their files and inquire, if they don’t already know, just what the heck is going on.

For the record, I cannot find anyone in our agricultural community who would vote against a new bridge. What we want is a safe bridge, safe for drivers and cyclists, and for people walking their dogs. The VDOT “cookie cutter” design will boost traffic counts on narrow roads ill-equipped to accommodate more vehicles and obliterate for ever one of the prettiest sites along the Shenandoah River.

Malcolm Barr Sr., Rockland