Last week on January 9, 2023 VDOT officials met with the Westmoreland Board of Supervisors, spending the majority of their presentation, updating the public on VDOT’s efforts to facilitate a solution to the bridge closure on Route 658 (Monroe Bay Circle) in Westmoreland Shores area.
An unexpected closure on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, caused by a hole that formed in the road from a pipe failure, forced VDOT to close the road until further notice and a detour has been implemented.
The bridge spans over an area of the Monroe Creek that requires 5 drainage pipes to handle the flow of water running under it. The bridge will remain closed until a solution can be put in place to allow safe passage over the creek.
This bridge is the main entrance and exit into an area known as Westmoreland Shores and it serves an estimated 400 residents and is the main route to the large Monroe Bay Campground which is usually fully booked all summer long.
At the January 9 Supervisors meeting representatives from VDOT said that currently there are 5 drainage pipes under the bridge, three have failed.
The project to repair the bridge and pipes involved constructing box culverts. In the mean time discussions to reopen all or a portion of the roadway while waiting for the construction to begin included a few ideas.
The first idea was filling in the three failing pipes but that could potentially put a high water risk upstream and possibly cause flooding upstream in the area of Stoney Knoll.
Another idea was to construct a temporary single lane bridge. Currently VDOT has an active procurement for a temporary bridge, “We’re working towards that.” The rep said, “However when work begins there will be a detour for several months.”
Officials said, “It’s serious enough that we just can’t open it up.” They said the active procurement for the temporary bridge was requested two and a half months ago and it should approved soon. Once the bridge arrives it will take roughly 3 to 4 weeks to install.
Fourth District Supervisor Woody Hynson asked the VDOT reps, “Could you close your eyes until the bridge gets here?”
VDOT representatives said no.
Fifth District Supervisor Tim Trivett asked if there was anything that might hinder the placement of the temporary bridge. Officials said not once the procurement is completed.
Officials said these types of bridges got their start as U. S. Military Bailey Bridges, however many improvements have been made. The bridge will be a truss panel bridge. The floor will be 3 by 10 foot panels. The bridge will be 13 feet 6 inches from guard rail to guard rail. Enough for one car to cross at a time.
The temporary bridge will have a weight limit load rating of HS90 which will carry a legal load in the state of Virginia. A fully loaded tractor trailer could cross the bridge.
The temporary bridge will there for roughly 18 months until construction starts. But then there will be a detour during the roughly 8 months of construction. VDOT officials said, “This is a major structure so it takes a lot of work.”