VDOT held a public meeting in Ivy at Mount Calvary Baptist Church Jan. 10 to discuss the replacement of the current bridge spanning Little Ivy Creek on Route 250. Dating back to 1936 and carrying a traffic load of around 11,500 vehicles a day, the bridge has been deemed by VDOT officials to be in “substandard condition.”
Located a quarter mile west of the intersection with route 637 (Dick Woods Road), the bridge will be replaced with a four-cell box culvert. Construction is slated for the summer of 2018 and, with roadway plans, right of way acquisition, utility replacement, and construction, will cost around $3 million.
According to Howard Tomlinson, the VDOT project manager behind the replacement, the open-house style meeting was held to provide information and gather public input regarding two possible options for construction. A number of easels were set up featuring informational drawings and schematics depicting the alternatives. VDOT representatives were available to discuss the drawings and various plans, as well as their projected impacts on both traffic and the environment, with attendees.
“The first option would expedite construction by closing Route 250 in both directions for two weeks with a detour in place,” said Tomlinson. “The second involves a phased approach to construction where the bridge would be reduced to one lane, with two-way traffic controlled by temporary traffic signals for a minimum of three months.”
The former, called Alternative A, would feature a detour whereby eastbound motorists would be directed to Interstate 64 and, via exit 118 to Route 29 North, returned to Route 250. Meanwhile, westbound traffic would reverse the detour, using exit 107 to Route 250 to navigate around the closure. Starting at one end of the bridge and ending at the other, the detour would run about 24 miles. Additionally, local traffic would use secondary roads to get around the construction.
The second option, Alternative B, would feature traffic signal cycles running for 2.5 to 3 minutes for each direction and result in “a significant disruption to traffic flow, especially during rush hour,” Tomlinson said. Both plans would be implemented in early July of 2018, just after Independence Day.
With an estimated 75 to 100 people cycling through the meeting area, public opinion ranged. However, based upon a survey of the crowd, most seemed in favor of the all-at-once approach.
“I met with area business and property owners earlier today and it seemed like we all agreed the fastest option was the best,” said Jim Sofka, a member of the 250 Task Force and the property owner closest to the bridge. “They’ll come in with a crane, take the thing out in one piece and get it over with. Otherwise, it’s jackhammers and time-consuming piecemeal construction. Plus, the former gives you a better end product.”
Indeed, according to Tomlinson, Alternative A would yield better results. “Both have the same end in mind, but it is ideal to install a product like this all at once,” he said.