Helping To Bridge A Need

Published 4:47 pm Thursday, February 6, 2014

PRINCE EDWARD —There’s a fresh look to the bridge that crosses Sailor’s Creek on the winding Route 619.

It is a surprising find, considering that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) hadn’t planned to replace the old bridge until 2016.

The temporary solution—in the form of a replaced superstructure—keeps traffic flowing.

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“The original VDOT plan was to drop the weight limit on that bridge (from ten) to four tons,” detailed Assistant County Administrator Sarah Puckett at a recent Board of Supervisors meeting.

Such a large drop would have repercussions for the next three years. Puckett detailed that would have meant no school buses, no EMS or fire trucks.

“All of those would’ve had to have detoured. So, (VDOT Residency Administrator) Kevin (Wright) worked really hard for us,” Puckett explained at one point just prior to the work. “And they are closing that bridge…for one week to re-deck it, but that one week is gonna get us three years of it being open to all that important traffic…”

Wright credited VDOT’s bridge section, offering that “they came up with this solution” when he told them “what kind of deal we had. And they came up with an ingenious solution here that would spend the least amount of money to get this thing patched up and we’ll have a good safe bridge until it is replaced.”

VDOT spokesperson Paula Jones confirmed that the superstructure was replaced, added surface treatment and the bridge has reopened to traffic.

In all five days of work.

VDOT was able to tap bridge maintenance funds to do the work, using material (beams and H-pilings) that can be re-used when the bridge is permanently replaced.

“…Kevin came back here to our bridge guys, to our structure bridge crews and said, ‘Hey is there something else we can do?’ And they said, ‘Well, let’s take a look at it.’ And…working with everyone put a real effort into it to be able to do what is indeed a temporary fix but something that will allow us to maintain traffic on there with the legal loads. So that’s great to make things go a little bit smoother for a little bit longer,” Jones said.

Dropping it to four tons, Supervisor Howard “Pete” Campbell offered at the meeting, would mean there would not be a fire truck in the county that could go over the structure. The rescue squad has only one vehicle, an old station wagon that could go across the bridge.

The change would have also meant no school buses; to accommodate, would have meant putting children on buses before 6 a.m., which Puckett cited is “inconceivable to us.”