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Beach Mill Road Plans Unveiled

New bridge will be installed summer 2013, contractor has incentives for early finish.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has released the updated schedule for construction of a new bridge over Nichols Run on Beach Mill Road.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has released the updated schedule for construction of a new bridge over Nichols Run on Beach Mill Road. Photo by Alex McVeigh.

The Virginia Department of Transportation will begin construction on the Beach Mill Road bridge over Nichols Run as early as next May.

The bridge was originally destroyed by flooding caused by the storm on Sept. 8, 2011, and a temporary box culvert was installed. While the bridge had been on a list of possible replacements, VDOT says that closing it for the next eight to ten months was not an option, so a temporary structure was opened eight days after the storm.

While the temporary box culvert is structurally sound, it does not meet standards for hydraulic capacity during storm events. For a two-year storm event, the bridge is 18 percent undersized, and for a 10-year storm event the bridge is 40 percent undersized.

“I’ve gotten a lot of comments from the community, why can’t the box culvert stay, it’s certainly structurally sound, but it’s completely inadequate for the hydraulic standards set forth by the Department of Conservation and Recreation,” said Nick Roper, VDOT’s district bridge engineer. “In the aftermath of [Tropical Storm] Lee, if we matched the size of the old bridge, we didn’t have to go get additional permits for construction, it was an emergency situation, roads were closed all throughout the county.”

THE BRIDGE was originally scheduled to be replaced from August to December of this year, but after community objections, the contract was cancelled in August and slightly modified.

The road will be closed the weekend after school lets out for the summer. The new contract offers an incentive of $750 per day for a maximum of 45 days.

“The only way the contractor can get the full 45 days of incentives is if he takes advantage of some of those early weekends,” Roper said.

The new contract also added several stipulations to accelerate construction, the most notable of which allows the contractor the option to close the road for four weekends before the end of the 2012-13 school year (with the exception of Memorial Day weekend) to perform preliminary site work.

“Closing the road for the weekend is typically from Friday night at about 9 p.m. to Monday about 4 a.m. I don’t think the contractor would begin Friday night, I don’t see the benefit,” Roper said. “We think he could be able to install H-columns, five or six per weekend, then bury it and re-open on Monday . . . we think the maximum of four weekends is more weekends than he needs to accelerate construction.”

OTHER PROVISIONS that VDOT hopes will speed up construction include the use of pre-cast concrete and the relocation of a gas line located near the west abutment. There was also a provision added to the Route 7 widening project contract that work cannot be performed on Georgetown Pike while the Beach Mill Road bridge is closed.

“I certainly hope the developer takes advantage of the early days, as long as we’re notified in a timely manner,” said James Anderson of Great Falls. “I think it’s going to be easier to plan around in little bits than the huge chunk of time when it’s closed.”

The earliest date the bridge could open would be July 16, 2013, and a disincentive begins after Aug. 30. The bridge will cost about $1.5 million.