250 Richmond area bridges & culverts on VDOT watch list

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan – email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - With construction set to begin on a new Huguenot Bridge, a new report says it's one of hundreds in Virginia in need of repair.

The price tag to fix those bridges is expected to be more than $4 billion and 250 of them are in the Richmond area.

Work you can't see has been underway for weeks.  The first crews will appear in another month. Just because the Huguenot and other bridges are on the watch list, the state says it doesn't mean they're dangerous to drive on.

The Mayo, Huguenot and Boulevard are all bridges that make VDOT's list. They are called deficient structures.

"It doesn't even mean it's unsafe," said Gary Martin, a structure and bridge engineer with VDOT.

Martin watches over the 2,700bridges in VDOT's Richmond district, which spans 14 counties and cities. There are 250 bridges and culverts in the area are on the list. Martin says it just means they need more frequent check-ups.

"I'm over 50 and I need a little bit more maintenance than I used to. So these are the same sort of things," he said.

VDOT has already started replacing 11 bridges over Interstate 95 in a $105 million project. The City of Richmond is deciding now whether to replace or repair the Mayo Bridge.

And then there's the $65 million project to replace the Huguenot Bridge. Work is scheduled to begin in January, which is good news for regular users like Bob McGowan.

"I've been over a lot of bridges and that one -- whoo," McGowan said.

VDOT said the $28,000 vehicles which cross the bridge nearly every day, should not hit many delays during the construction.

"We're going to build a bridge adjacent to the existing bridge and then shift traffic over to the new bridge, and then tear down the old bridge and then build it up," said VDOT's Dawn Eischen.

All of the bridges on the watch list get inspected once a year instead of the federally mandated once every two years.

"We are checking it frequently," Martin said. "We're not going to leave a bridge open that's unsafe. And we always have public safety as our number one priority."

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