FRONT ROYAL – Morgan Ford bridge will close at 6 a.m. today as construction begins on its southern approach.

Ken Slack, a Virginia Department of Transportation spokesman, said over the phone that a construction contract lists the completion date as June 5, but the Strasburg-based Kickin’ Asphalt Paving and Excavating LLC has incentives to finish by Dec. 6.

He explained the large window for completion stems from whether or not the contractor begins paving before asphalt plants close in November.

A VDOT news release states that Route 624 will be closed between Howellsville Road and Fairground Road as the improvements are underway.

The release states drivers on the bridge’s south side will be directed on a detour that includes turning right on Howellsville Road, then left on John Mosby Highway and then left on Red Gate Road.

The detour for drivers on the north side will include following Red Gate Road, turning right on John Mosby Highway and then left on Howellsville Road.

Construction on the $4.9 million bridge was completed in January 2018. The new bridge is 8 feet higher than its predecessor in an effort to reduce flooding.

Slack said that the bridge flooded days after the construction was completed and again in the following months. This, he said, resulted in damages to the southern approach.

According to previous reports, the $553,903 worth of scheduled improvements are funded through VDOT and will include reinforcement of the road through the installation of nonporous concrete pavement that goes 8 inches into the ground. Additionally, about 150 feet of pilings will further reinforce the ground alongside the road.

Regarding the pending improvements, Slack said “this certainly should do it” and it should be the last time work is needed at the southern approach. Although he said the bridge “will go underwater in the future,” the improvements should make the foundation solid.

– Contact Josh Gully at jgully@nvdaily.com