FREDERICKSBURG FREE LANCE-STAR, SCOTT SHENK
On Tuesday, Fredericksburg-area elected officials and Virginia Department of Transportation representatives met with U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger to tour local sites where major road projects are being planned.
The 7th District representative was out visiting locations that are receiving federal funds through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability & Equity program.
The first of Spanberger’s two local stops happened a little before 11 a.m. at the Falmouth Bridge, a 79-year-old span over the Rappahannock River between Fredericksburg and Stafford County. The bridge is listed by VDOT as structurally deficient.
Fredericksburg Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw, council member Jon Gerlach and City Manager Tim Baroody attended the gathering, along with VDOT Fredericksburg District representatives Annette Adams, structure and bridge engineer, and Michelle Shropshire, assistant district engineer for project development.
The mayor told Spanberger the bridge is a “major artery” and critical facet of the area’s transportation network.
Shroprshire talked about the bridge project’s funding, $61 million, recently approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board.
The bridge project will include a milling and overlay of the bridge deck, replacement of the bridge’s concrete rail and sidewalk, and repairs to the bridge’s steel and concrete substructure below the bridge deck. The bridge’s structural steel girders will be repaired and strengthened along the entire span.
Adams said the bridge project remains in the preliminary engineering phase, adding that it’s too early to say when work will start. But she said the work will “easily” take two years to complete. The bridge will remain open, with lane closures, during the work.
Adams and Shropshire noted during the gathering with Spanberger that the federal funding also will help VDOT improve six other area I-95 bridges—four in Spotsylvania and two in Caroline County—in the coming years.
“It’s allowing us to repair some of the bridges that we ordinarily would not have been able to,” Shropshire said, emphasizing that the work is preventive, meaning it should help avoid more expensive work that could develop if no improvements are made.
Spanberger said the state’s has bridges and roads are in disrepair and they need to be fixed, which was her reason for supporting the federal infrastructure funding, which she called “the largest investment since the highway system was created.”
She added that focusing on the bridge repairs early makes fiscal sense.
The second stop focused on an area in Spotsylvania County that will receive $3 million in federal grant funds through the infrastructure program to help with the cost of planned U.S. 1 improvements.
The county needs to cover an estimated $155.2 million in road improvements related to the clinic.
The county has been seeking a variety of ways to pay for the projects in the U.S. 1 and Hood Drive area, including federal and state sources.
The grant funds will help pay for a small portion of work along Route 1 between the Lafayette Boulevard and State Route 208 intersection and the Interstate 95 interchange connected to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic, scheduled to open in 2024.
The work includes improvements at the Lafayette Boulevard and Route 208 intersection, Hope Road and I–95 ramp improvements, along with new bus service and connections to the downtown Fredericksburg train station.
One project aims to improve the I–95 interchange ramps. The estimated $12.6 million exit ramp project would add an additional left-turn lane on southbound U.S. 1 to the southbound exit and widen the ramp to two lanes.
Another project is the estimated $26 million in improvements planned at State Route 208 and Market Street intersections. The other clinic-related road project, expected to cost $25 million, focuses on improving the U.S. 1 intersection with Hood Drive and Mine Road.