One bridge project, another possible, among summer projects in New Kent
A major bridge project involving a structure that connects Charles City and New Kent along with another possible one in the Barhamsville area of New Kent will have major impacts during the summer months.
According to Virginia’s Department of Transportation (VDOT) monthly update report provided to New Kent County supervisors Monday night, the deck replacement of the Route 155 (Courthouse Road) bridge spanning the Chickahominy River canal is scheduled to undergo construction in August 2019. The other bridge that spans the main portion of the river, now known as the F.W. “Wakie” Howard Jr. bridge, was replaced a decade ago.
The replacement of the bridge was brought up in the 2017-18 six-year secondary plan for New Kent County. Since that time, the integrity of the structure has broken down. VDOT advertised for the deck replacement of the bridge on Apr. 23 and they are currently awaiting bids on the project. If bids come in, VDOT expects to start in August. The replacement of the bridge is expected to take several months, with the detour taking motorists down Route 618 (Adkins Road) in Charles City as an alternate route into New Kent.
In another bridge project, the structure that crosses Goddins Mill Pond is facing a lot of difficulties in replacement as VDOT are exploring three options.
The bridge, constructed in 1920, is approximately seven feet long and 14 feet, five inches wide. The bridge is a single lane bridge, with the superstructure made of concrete and supported by steel beams. Unfortunately, the substructure consists of brick walls with a thin veneer of cast in place of mortar/cement. The superstructure has deteriorated to a point that needs to be replaced, with VDOT responsible for the superstructure and Bradenham-Goddin Properties LLC responsible for the maintenance of the substructure. Because of this issue, VDOT cannot install a new superstructure at a width equal to existing superstructure and provide an approved crash protection system extending off of the bridge. The current crash protection system does not meet current requirements and cannot be replaced “as-is.”
VDOT’s bridge office has recommended the existing structure be closed to traffic until a replacement structure can be installed or the crossing is permanently closed. VDOT has recommended three options. The first option is to recommend permanent closure of the bridge, an option that District 5 representative Ray Davis was strongly against. Option two would be to request landowners to make improvements to the approaches and existing substructure, making it an allowable width as the road approaches the structure. If the modifications are made to the substructure to permit a new superstructure, VDOT will ask landowners to help provide the allowable capacity of the substructure and supporting soils to make the new structure. Option three would to reduce the bridge width to a minimum width of 10-11 feet through a design exception and have a 15-ton limit on the bridge.
VDOT will continue to work with the Office of the Attorney General to find the best resolution for the nearly 100-year old bridge.