VDOT, Scott County BOS discuss Dean Hollow Road bridge project

Holly Viers • Apr 9, 2018 at 1:30 PM

GATE CITY — With the necessary funding in place, VDOT’s project to replace the bridge on Dean Hollow Road in Nickelsville is moving forward.

However, the project was a cause for concern during Wednesday’s meeting of the Scott County Board of Supervisors, when a citizen expressed concerns about the impact the project could have on access to and from the area.

What VDOT said

Gary Lester, district bridge engineer for VDOT, told the BOS that the existing bridge is “structurally deficient.” VDOT’s plan, Lester said, is to replace the superstructure of the bridge and leave the substructure, which is in relatively good condition.

VDOT also plans to widen the bridge from 11 feet to 18 feet and add standard guardrails on the sides. Lester added that $1.2 million in state-of-good-repair funds has been set aside to complete the project.

Lester estimated the work would take around two months to complete if VDOT closes the bridge during construction. That would create about a 12-mile detour, but the project could be completed in the summer months next year to avoid disrupting school traffic, Lester said.

“It’s a fairly long detour, but it only has currently around 100 vehicles per day on it,” Lester said. “So the daily cost to the public, even though you’ve got such a long detour, there’s not that many people using it like there would be for an interstate or a primary road that we had to close.”

Alternatively, if the bridge is left open to traffic during construction, Lester said the project could take several more months or even years to complete, and it would be significantly more expensive.


Citizen impact

Jody Burk, who lives on Dean Hollow Road, uses the bridge to transport things to and from his farm and said closing the bridge during the summer would be “probably the worst time for us.”

“Twelve miles is not bad in a car,” Burk said, “but when you drive a tractor 12 miles on a road with your equipment, that’s a long way.”

He added that a school bus doesn’t travel over the bridge, so school traffic wouldn’t be disrupted if the project was done at another time, such as the fall.

Either way, he emphasized the need for the project to be completed as quickly as possible so that any potential access issues would be short-lived.

“If you say two months, look at the Weber City bridge and how long it’s been worked on,” Burk said. “Two months is one thing. Maybe they can do it that quick, I don’t know.”


What the BOS said

BOS members agreed that while it would be inconvenient to close the bridge for two months, it could be potentially worse if construction drags out.

“There’s just not a perfect way to do this,” said BOS Chairman David Redwine. “It’s going to be an inconvenience to those folks either way, but it sounds like the timeline, if that could be changed (to fall), that might be compromised.”

Lester said he doesn’t believe VDOT will have any problem pushing the project back from summer to fall of next year, while still maintaining the two-month construction timeframe.

“Maybe that helps everybody,” Redwine said. “With (VDOT’s) blessing, at this time that’s what we’ll go with.”