By the Wayside: Busted bridge burns businesses

Back in May, just a month into a planned 18-month project, owners of several business located next to the Jefferson Park Avenue bridge replacement complained that the construction was hurting their businesses. Now, they say the JPA project is "killing" their businesses.

Since May, a pedestrian path ran by Wayside Chicken and the JPA Fast Mart, providing some foot traffic past the long-time group of businesses on the corner while a more sturdy temporary pedestrian bridge was being built. In late October, the pedestrian bridge was completed. But there's just one problem. It was built on the other side of the street.

That, says JPA Fast Mart owner Jeff Catlett, just added insult to injury.

"It blows my mind that they've done all this without thinking about the consequences for us," says Catlett, who points out that pedestrians now have to negotiate a veritable obstacle course of bright orange traffic barrels, netting, and white barriers to reach his store.

"Businesswise, this project is killing us."says Fast Mart's manager, Bill Clayton, who put up a big sign in an effort to lure customers through the maze of construction materials.

"It's a convenience store," says a dejected Clayton, "but its not so convenient anymore."

Game day destination
As UVA football fans know, the collection of businesses that hug the bridge's northwestern tip, Wayside, located on the corner of Jefferson Park Avenue and Fontaine Avenue, has always been a convenient place to stop for supplies on the way to a Saturday game. The JPA area has also provided myriad places to park, as homeowners cash in by offering spots within walking distance of Scott Stadium, a walk that has always taken fans right past the Fast Mart.

"Now," says Claytor, "we have a third to a half of the business we used to have on game days."

Catlett, who has been operating the store for 18 years, says that monthly business is off by 70 percent.

"We've been taking in about $60,000 to $70,000 a month for the last 18 years," says Catlett. "Now we're lucky if we do $30,000."

And there's still about a year to go before the $11 million project is completed with a new $11 million, 67-foot wide vehicle and pedestrian viaduct over the tracks of the Norfolk Southern railroad.

While business owners understand the need to replace the 80-year old bridge, they say that not enough was done, by either the Virginia Department of Transportation or the City, to help them survive the 18-month-long construction project.  For instance, with $11 million budgeted, Catlett wonders why there wasn't something set aside to help the Wayside businesses weather such a lengthy construction project.

Advanced warning

Back in April, amid reports of "severe adverse impacts" as a result of the  project, Fry's Spring Neighborhood Association president Hardy Whitten alerted City Council and development staff to the concerns of Wayside business owners.

In a April 21 email, Whitten said the neighborhood expected the City to support the Wayside business as it had other business directly affected by infrastructure repair projects, "such as the re-bricking of the Main St Mall."

Indeed, the City not only re-bricked the Downtown Mall in planned stages, but it funded a $100,000 marketing campaign to lessen the impact on business. However, as City staff point out, unlike the Mall re-bricking, the new JPA bridge is a VDOT, not a City, project. Still, City money is going toward it.

The neighborhood's concerns were forwarded to VDOT's Construction Engineer, Kenneth J. Shirley, who responded by saying he was unaware of what steps were taken during the Mall re-bricking to mitigate business impacts, and that he would be "truly interested" in learning about what had been done. He said a "Business Access" sign was on order, and that "four or five" barrels were removed to improve visibility.

"Should the City agree to place additional signage around and about town," Shirley wrote, "we will be more than glad to consider placement of signs outside the corporate limits."

In recent years, the City has offered to freeze real estate tax rates on two massive construction projects– a new tower called Waterhouse and the old Martha Jefferson Hospital campus– in order to lure multi-million-dollar business into the city limits. But as Wayside Barber Shop owner Bobby Bishop points out, all that's been offered to the Wayside businesses are a few signs.

"They don't care about the little people," says Bishop, busily cutting a Region Ten client's hair free of charge, something he says he has done for the last 30 years.

Five years ago, Bishop, who began in business here in 1960, opened a coffee and ice cream place called Hoo's Brew in the building next door, and while he says the place was "packed with young people" just last year, business has plummeted since construction began. If he had known the what was in store, he says, he never would have opened Hoo's Brew.

"I don't mind going out of business if I'm not doing a good job," says Bishop. "But I don't like being run out of business."

At nearby Wayside Deli and Dürty Nelly's, owner Gary Hagar echos Bishop's concerns, admitting that his businesses are suffering, but he resists getting bitter.

"We'll wade through it as best we can," says Hagar. "We gotta be tough."

Still, those who watch the construction every day say they can't believe how slow it is progressing. On a recent mid-morning visit, a reporter watched three workers move a port-a-potty, as cranes and heavy equipment were all silent. About an hour later, however, they sprang to life with a full crew operating them.

"I've been watching them work on that bridge since they started," says an employee at the Exxon across the street, "and they definitely need a little pep in their step."

So why so long?
In a prepared statement, VDOT, the agency in charge of the project, says that "complex work involving the relocation of utilities" and the replacement of the bridge in such a "tight space" are some reasons for the 18-month  timeline. In addition, VDOT explains that having to work around pedestrians and stopping when there's railroad activity below–- as many as 10 trains a day–- has been "cutting up to several hours out of the workday."

"One thing that surprised me is the amount of foundation prep work that is being done," says UVA structural engineering professor Tom Baber. "It appears that a substantial number of drilled piles were being installed. That takes some time, and can slow a project down. My guess is that the extensive foundation work is the main reason for the apparently long construction time."

A major reason for so much foundation, says Baber, is that it is being built over a functioning railroad.

"I can say from personal experience that the railroads won't let you proceed until you have absolutely ensured that their track will not be compromised in any way, shape, or form– even for a short time," says Baber. "They can't afford to have their tracks closed, since closing 25 feet of track is the same as closing 100 miles of track. "

Baber suspects that railroad-based precautions have slowed the project not only during the construction phase but also during the demolition phase. For instance, a landslide during the old pier removal or a section of the old bridge falling on the tracks could disrupt rail traffic. 

"The railroad probably has a penalty clause whereby any disruption of rail traffic would result in a pretty stiff fine to the contractor," says Baber.

"The railroad requires that VDOT have a railroad employee on site anytime we're working on or over the railroad right of way," says VDOT spokesperson Lou Hatter. "And they have the authority to stop work on the bridge when trains come through."

Hatter says that all the equipment must be clear of the tracks– including overhead cranes and equipment that may be working along the tracks.

"The time to stop work, remove the equipment, and then restart construction is significant since it happens numerous times each day," says Hatter.

Still, in comparison, the first phase of the Stonefield development project on Route 29, which involves excavating 65 acres of land, building 270,000 square feet of retail space, a town center, a 14-screen theater, and Trader Joe's at a major intersection is scheduled to take five months less than the JPA bridge project.

However, while the new JPA bridge is pretty small compared to a project like Stonefield, Baber thinks the space confinement at the railroad tracks, the smaller crew, and the precautions that need to be taken may actually be slowing the project down in ways that aren't immediately apparent to observers.

Indeed, as Hatter points out, the utilities that ran under the old bridge  had to be moved to a temporary structure to maintain utility service, and those utilities will be moved back onto the new bridge once that is built.

Other bridge projects
Indeed, while the project challenge that UVA's Baber mentions is real, other similar projects provide a contrast in planning and execution.

For instance, in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, a 50 million-dollar bridge project involving the construction of two bridges over Norfolk Southern rail tracks is expected to take just six months longer than the JPA project. Then there's the Milton-Madison Bridge Project being built by the Indiana Department of Transportation that crosses the Ohio River, connecting Milton, Kentucky and Madison, Indiana.

The project was recently voted one of the top ten bridge projects in the country by Roads & Bridges magazine. Using a method called "truss sliding," a new 2,400-foot-long steel truss and road deck will be run across the Ohio River beside the old bridge on temporary bridge towers, providing a route for traffic and then "slid" to the new bridge towers when they are completed. While total construction may commensurate with the JPA Bridge project, the halt on traffic will be dramatically shorter: just 10 days.

However, as Hatter points out, the Milton-Madison bridge project is a much larger bridge being built in an area that allows the old span to remain in service while the new structure is being built on a new alignment parallel to the old bridge.

"The technique you describe is not one that would be used on a bridge of the size and location of the JPA bridge," says Hatter.

City response
The Hook asked Neighborhood Development Chief Jim Tolbert, as well as all five City Councilors, to respond to the concerns of Wayside business owners, but the task was handed off to City spokesperson Ric Barrick, who says the City is "sympathetic" to their business needs.

"We're going to be surveying surrounding businesses to assess the gravity of the challenge," says Barrick. "Meanwhile, we've instructed VDOT to enhance signage and improve access."

In addition, Barrick says the City has encouraged the local media to run stories about the Wayside businesses and has ordered food for five of the City's recent "town hall" dinners from Wayside Chicken and the JPA Fast Mart.

"We're currently working with the appropriate UVA departments to encourage them to use those businesses," says Barrick, "and we are looking into a possible matching funds advertising campaign to offer those businesses."

For businesses owners, however, that may be too little, too late.

"I know we need the bridge, and I'm sure there's some reason why they put the pedestrian bridge on the other side of the street," says Catlett, "but we received no real help from the City or VDOT. Next time, I hope they think about that."

–This story was originally published online on November 3.


Watching government employees work? What an oxymoron................

Moving a port-a-potty? Priceless!

What the business owners need to do is to set up web cams showing the work not being done so people can understand how little is going on at any one time. They ALL stop working when a train passes even the people up who are nowhere near the train below. This is a perfect example of Government incompetence and the public should demand action. If that bridge were the only way to the mayors house you can be dam sure it would be going faster.
it is inexcuasable. They should have people working on every corner of the bridge in a coordinated fashion.

Whoever allowed 18 months to build a bridge that small should be FIRED.

If the council spent a little less looking for the next clock or solidarity vote and a little more time demanding that the residents lives are taken care of we would not have problems like this.

This is a platform for an independent to run on. This is a fight that needs to be fought.

I am so sick of the city hall talk about helping businesses and the lack of action - this is the perfect example. Long time establishments left to rot .

I attended last nights forum and if you want to see the city staff do better elect Smith/Fenwick/Collins. They made it crystal clear they are ready, willing, and able to represent the citizens who aren't being heard over the noise of county interests.

Huja and Galvin were also clear that they are the democratic wing of county government in the city ( controlled by large development interests) not the little guy/gal just trying to run a small business.

I hate the bridge construction. I live ont he other side, and it is such a pain not to be able to quickly run to JPA fastmart anymore. I can't lie, I used to visit there a few times a week, but now after the construction I'v only been twice. It makes it really hard to get to work and to other places in a timely manner. The traffic it has caused on Shamrock is a nightmare. I would have known about the bridge, before moving to the area, I would have changed my mind

Even if Huja didn't represent development interests, he voted to hire Maurice Jones. This is Jones's failure, and big one!

I think Fenwick would have had the sense to see what was coming with this bridge project( and with hiring someone as unready as Maurice Jones to manage the city's affairs). We really need some sense like that that on council. It's a pretty unlikely group at first glance, but I've really come to believe that Fenwick, Smith, and Collins are the best choices in the coming election.

"the City would offer no real help to the businesses effected by the project...."

The word is "affected." Affected by the project. Not effected.

Time to crack that AP Style Guide, kids.

actually, perhaps the more accurate word would be "afflicted"

as in "The workers are so slow that they appear to be afflicted with some sort of disease that renders thems so slow that the Police almost drew chalk around them"

@Bill Marshall - I hate to intrude on your government-employee bashing, but you do realize the bridge is being built by a private contractor? If not, you might want to check out VDOT's page on the bridge project.

There is just no way this wasn't going to clobber the convenience store - they just aren't convenient anymore. I do wonder why it wasn't possible to retain egress for their front parking spaces somehow. I eat up at Nelly's, or Wayside Chicken, at least once a week and the project hasn't changed that for me.

I honestly don't think the fact that the pedestrian bridge is now on the north side of JPA is really harming those businesses, but again: I'm not sure why the construction crew can't just maintain an easier pedestrian path across JPA from the new pedestrian bridge to the little shopping center. Let's face it though, it's the lack of parking and ability to drive into that center - a problem which has plagued that place for years and years - that keeps people from going into the convenience store.

I used to go to Food Lion and CVS on 5th extended, but not anymore! I'll start again when the bridge is back.

I understand COMPLETELY that this is contracted work and that the contractors answer bids as requested by VDOT specs and that they all play games in the good ole boys network to rob the taxpayers.

Let walmart solicit bids for the same bridge from the same contractors (for access to their store,) that needs to meet the same specs and you will get it done for half price. There is no reason whatsover for that bridge to take longer than 90 days to build. They had the plans. They could order all the materials and store them nearby and get to work. It is A JOKE. They milk it to make it seem like it is complicated. It is a BRIDGE over railroad tracks. It is no big deal. It is taking longer to build the bridge than to build Stonefields shopping center with all its underground tanks, plumbing heat electrical fixtures, parking lots and architectural reviews.

How the the public allows 18 month road closures for these small mickey mouse projects is unbelievable to me.

Why do people thnk that it is ok for the government to inconvience 1000 people every day for 500+ days for a project like this? It is a joke.

THe Hook should do a story on what is actually being done and WHY it takes so long. The bid has to show the man hours involved. There are enough Civil engineers around to consult

They could build it out of legos in 18 months.

Maurice Jones is a nice guy, but completely over his head in his present position. I don't believe Fenwick would have hired this guy.

Time for an independent on council and given the abysmal lack of oversight by Huja of the RWSA and his willingness to give up valuable city assets because the county demands it --not voting for him.

I think Norris has been weakened by lack of a majority on council to support his effort to stand up to county pressure, so, if you know any voters spread the word - Fenwick/Smith/Collins to return the city to the people and prevent loss of city assets.

Anyone can tell Smith is biting her tongue every time she has to say she supports Huja and Galvin. Clear to me she supports Fenwick, and they would be dynamite together on council.

The proposed dam at ragged mountain is only two million more.

Somebody is getting very rich off this debacle

@ Bill Marshall: You said; "Let walmart solicit bids for the same bridge from the same contractors (for access to their store,) that needs to meet the same specs and you will get it done for half price." Are you saying that 11 contractors that bid on this project ALL inflated their costs to rob tax payers? The other 10 contractors must not have wanted this job that bad!

"It is a BRIDGE over railroad tracks. It is no big deal." - that has to be your most hilarious statement. Any developer or contractor having to work nearby or over a railroad knows the agony dealing with them. They own the property, they hold all the cards, and when they want one of their dozen daily trains moving through that area, they have the power to wave their flag and by contract, everyone inside RR right-of-way has to stop work and clear the zone.


While agree with you that what is going on is a travesty, and that it is punishing these small businesses, I am not sure how that suddenly all equates to the government messing up. So, what, are you saying that due to its massive size, WalMart can bully contractors in a way that the City can't? Or the Railroad?

I could agree that the big muscle like WalMart can bully people, when a small City government can't, but that should send up alarms for you in a different direction. If the taxpayer can't get protection from the government, where else are they gpoing to get it? From the courts?

Ah, but then its frivolous lawsuits, isn't it?


I just find it so frustrating to have an consistent rational conversation with you,e ven when I really want to agree with you. Get off the ideology, and let your brain work. There is obviously one in there.

Since the project is going to take forever, they should make them do the pedestrian bridge over. Classic construction project. Follow the money trail and those that benefit, and I am not talking about having a new and better bridge aspect of it.

This is yet another example of why we all need to revert back to subsistence farming!!! Vote Fenwick unless you want to feed the city's poor to county fatcats! This is an example of government run amok! No, wait, of government not doing enough! Or, ummm..... WHAT ABOUT DREDGING!!!

Clearly something needs to be punished because there is a convenient store that is not doing well in Charlottesville! Why isn't the government helping this business out? I mean, it's one of the GOOD businesses that gov't SHOULD BE helping. Not one of the BAD businesses that I've learned will be enriched unless we DREDGE THE RESERVOIR!!!!

Or something like that anyway.... I think I read something about this in the hook?

I understand that the businesses are hurting, but to say that the project is going slowly is simply not true. I ride my bike over the pedestrian bridge twice a day and it amazing the amount of engineering and construction that has already occurred. This is a huge project and I witness multi-tasking all of the time. It is irresponsible to report that since these are government workers they are sitting around or moving a port-a-pottie because it just isn't true.

Destroying the local economy in the interest of being green. I'm not so sure VDOT didn't locate the temporary pedestrian bridge on the opposite side of the road deliberately. The folks running things have had an agenda of bringing down the American economy for quite some time now, this would help put one more small business owner out of business, you do the math.

Bill - I am a civil engineer by degree and trade. I completely understand the scope and complications of building a project like this. 18 months may be a little long for this project, but not by much. I'll tell you exactly why this project is expected to take so long:

1) There are existing utilities under and around the bridge that need to be relocated before the bridge can even be demolished. Each one of those has it's own complexities. Installation of gas lines and water lines is not difficult work, but it doesn't happen over night. Rush those, and you have a big mess.

2) The City demanded that pedestrian access be maintained at all times during the project. This was for the benefit of the residents and businesses that you claim that the City does not support. Without that requirement, sure they could have probably cut 4 months off, maybe, but think of the backlash from a decision like that.

3) The railroad is extremely protective of thier property. As they should be. Thousand ton death machines cruise by the site at high speed 12 times a day. The railraod and contractors must be very cautious not to compromise their safety. Perhaps you don't care about lowly construction workers. Well, OSHA certainly does, and the City too. How productive would you be if you had to stop working for 15 minutes every hour? about 25% less productive, at least. Not to mention the time lost from setting up and removal of equipment on or above the tracks.

4) This project has taken an orchestrated effort of many contractors all working on top of each other in a very tight space. Everything has to be carefully planned out to maintain traffic - both vehicular and pedestrian, ensure that utility service is not disrupted, minimize noise impacts, and keep contractors working. All within an area the size of a soccer field. That is in no way comparable to the Stonefield project.

If you care so much, and think the City is doing a terrible job, then offer solutions, not just criticisms. People should not accept haircuts "free of charge" from an institution that they frequent and they know is struggling.

Chris M It is true that when a train goes by those in the right of way (danger area) need to stop, BUT those who are NOT in the danger area stop too. It is a joke, They are simply taking advantge of the situation.

Old Timer, YOU could secure a better bid for this. These builders know the game and rig the bids back and forth in all kinds of ways to overblow the projects. The engineers make things complicated to get more money and the builders keep quiet about it because they get paid more for the unessasary engineering.

"An elephant is a mouse built to government specifications"

Anybody else in construction want to weigh in on how fast THEY could get the job done?

In this economy when people would be happy just for the work there is ZERO reason for anyone to get overtime or pay differential for weekend or splt shifts. So they should have required 12 hour days with split shifts and way more workers (each only working 40 hours per week) to get the job done quick. If you need more than 50 yards allied concrete will open on Saturday at no extra charge.

18 months is unacceptable. If the railroad is givng anybody aggravation then have the head of VDOT call the head of the rail line and if that doesn't work then have the Governemts staff make the call.If that doesn't work then find out what is important to them and make them miserable until they cooperate.

Private business trumps government everytime, but only because people are content with "close enough for government work"

Kosmo, This is by no stretch a large operation. Do you see people on bith sides with tandem equipment meeting in the middle? They built the golden gate bridge in 4 years.

People are correct to be upset.

Bill: So let 'em stand around... if anybody is being taken advantage of, it's the owner of R.R.Dawson, Inc. As long as VDOT made no mistakes in the contract documents, the contractor gets paid the bid price, no less, no more. If they're late delivering the final product, the contractor pays liquidated damages to VDOT. If they complete the project earlier and under budget - it's good PR for everyone and profit for the contractor, but that rarely happens.

The relationship between contractors and VDOT isn't as chummy as you think it is. Transportation construction is a very cut-throat industry.

informed citizen speaks like a true policy wonk.

I have been involved in commercial construction my entire working life and this project is only complicated because people interested in keeping their own jobs made it that way. OSHA does not require people working on top of the bridge abutment to stop working but the contractor billed for it in the bid. The railroad IS protective of their property, but that does not mean that they have the right to control things. If joe citizen owned the property the state would tell them what to do not the other way around. As for "highly coordinated" that is an absolute falsehood. They do not care. Everybody is making money on this deal and a lot of it. Go to the site and look at it yourself. It is not a complicated engineering feat it is a bridge.

I don't know about 90 days but certainly 6 months is more than enough.

Obviously some of you have never worked construction involving railroad. They tend to have more power and pull then any gov't entity. Its amazing really.

I am interested in knowing what some of the merchants in that area would like to see the City do>

Must have been a "shovel ready" job- maybe, "shovel ready" to lean on job..............

Chris M It is attitudes like yours that got us here. Why should the taxpayers wait a year and a half to build a 100 foot bridge? A week to move to gas line, a week to move the power line, a week for the cable and phone and a month for any sewer and water. MEANWHILE they could already be pouring footers and such. You say they are just taking advantage of their employer and I am saying that it starts with an engineer who makes it much more complicated than it needs to be so he can charge more and everybody else goes along.. meanwhile we have to wait a year and a half and pay 11 million dollars for a 100 foot bridge.

The civil engineer disagrees and asks what I would do, well I already said it. The Hook should spend a couple of hours and ask a local steel company how much the steel costs and call alllied concrete and ask how much a yard of concrete costs. They should ask the workers (quietly) how fast they could get it done if they were on commision. Then they should find civil engineers that work in the private sector for major companies who want things done QUICK and see what the time frame really should be.

Stonefield is moving utilities also. They have to work right on 29 in confined areas.

The taxpayers deserve better.

I want to thank commenters non-resident taxpayer and Informed C'ville Citizen and Chris M for their lucid and insightful remarks. They helped to bring even more clarity and understanding to this article by Dave McNair on the construction of the JPA bridge.

The construction of that bridge is, perhaps, a metaphor for the larger national issue of infrastructure deterioration, the need for public investments in rebuilding and improving that infrastructure, job creation, and promoting the general welfare of the nation. Moreover, it shines a harsh light on the silly, simplistic, erroneous and hypocritical arguments that conservatives continue to spew about democratic governance.

Reporter McNair notes that business for JPA Fast Mart owner Jeff Catlett has declined due to the bridge construction. Yet, that decline is temporary, and even Catlett says “I know we need the bridge.”

C’ville Citizen explained from an engineering perspective why construction will take 18 months. Other have pointed out that the state operated under a competitive bidding process –– a process required by law to ensure fairness and taxpayer value –– in funding the construction, and the work is begin performed by private contractors under terms of the contract(s). When the work is completed, everybody – business owners, taxpayers, the general public – will benefit. Everybody will be better off than before.

Still, the conservative ranters – notably bill marshall and tim taylor –– churn out their small-minded, inaccurate invectives against government. These dogmatists seem to forget – or detest – that in a democracy, government is “of the people, by the people, for the people.” It is not an evil. It is us.

Moreover, what the ranters refuse to acknowledge is that it’s their ideology and policies that are the root cause of or current economic and infrastructure woes. For example, while Ronald Reagan’s supply-side economic policies cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy (and raised them on workers) while slashing infrastructure spending. Budget deficits and debt piled up. The rich got richer, the poor got poorer and the middle class got squeezed. George W. Bush resurrected Reagan’s supply policies, profligate spending, and aided and abetted corruption on Wall Street.

Conservatives, however, refuse to take any responsibility for using government to impose economic and regulatory policies that raided public treasuries, siphoned money into very private bank accounts, and left behind a financial mess. In essence, they perpetrated a huge fraud on the nation. The citizenry got stuck with the clean-up, and the bill.

Yet, according to conservatives, it is “government” that is the problem, and not them. The convoluted rants of bill marshall and tim taylor (or of paul ryan and eric cantor and rush limbaugh at the national level) make clear where the real problem lies.

Democracy, your small mind must really be smoking after that rant... put a cool towel on your head lest you blow an eardrum.

The point is that the "competitive bid" proces is RIGGED from the start because the people at VDOT have no incentive to secure anything except the lowest bid. In the real world where people have to EARN the money to pay for things they do not just look for the lowest bid they actually look at the project, estimate its cost and then evaluate the bids to see if they can afford it. In private industry the engineers are charged with the responsibility to engineer something that is easy to build in a short amount of time that meets all safety needs and is cost efficent both in construction and ongoing maintanance. They then give apperance options as a secondary item to keep costs down. In the public sector they hire an engineer who makes things complicated but pretty so that they can make a lot of money on the job. The contractors are happy because the work required is more and therefore they will make more. In the private sector the engineer knows that if he brings back some overdone thing like that he will be fired and replaced. The pprivate sector has to comply with al the Govt regulations too but gets things done for half price in half the time.

This is what gannet and flemming did with the dam estimates.

and Democracy, paying TO MUCH for the bridge is why we are broke. Causing traffic backups and starving busineses for 18 months instead of 6 months is why we are broke.

They may choose the lowest bid but they still have to bid on what VDOT wants which is speced out by someone who is charged with pleasing the local politicians who want to please the peolpe who don't care how much it cost as long as it is fancy.

It is a 100 foot by 67 foot bridge. going over railroad tracks. It is not the golden gate.

Bill Marshall- PERFECT!!

as mentioned previously

"Moving a port-a-potty? Priceless!"

For all of you Dems bashing posters on the technical end of things, let us just revert back to the simple thesis here:
Whenever government gets involved in projects, it screws them up. Now, surely infrastructure has to involve government, but you can be sure a government like Chville's will be prone to screwing it up.
And for those of you crying that this is a microcosm of what is going on nationally: We need more infrastructure improvement, so let's put people to work on "shovel ready" projects...spare me the FDR and Jimmy Carter rhetoric. Their schemes didn't work...they won't work now.

The Navy "Sea Bees" or Army Engineers could have built a better bridge in less than a week. I have seen them do it. I have personally observed the goings on there at JPA, and let me tell you if they worked any slower they would be going in reverse. "Informed C-ville Citizen" either works for that company or graduated from Va Tek Civil Engineering if he thinks the timeline of this project is acceptable.

I have to agree with Mr. Hargraves, this is the 21st century, there is no logical reason for this to move so slowly. I too have watched the goings on and many days there is no one there for much of the day.

The comments by bill marshall, Liberalce, and doyle hargraves read like the typical uninformed and snide conservative snarking that they are. As usual, they are far off base.

@ bill marshall: if you want to see what a "small mind" looks like, please step in front of a mirror. And billy boy, if the “private sector” is so darned good then how do you explain the massive fraud and corruption on Wall Street?

Indeed, in the wake of the dotcom bubble-burst, the major players on Wall Street finally were forced to pony up $1.5 billion in fines for fraud. And following that, major players were fined for bribery (JPMorgan) money laundering (Credit Suisse, Citbank), and tax fraud (UBS). Then, of course, there was Enron. And WorldCom. And Global Crossing. And Tyco. And the subprime mortgage and derivatives fraud(s), about which Martin Wolf of The Financial Times said, "It was a great big Ponzi scheme." The list just goes on.

The big national debt and the current economic crisis were brought on, and aided and abetted, by the people and policies that you and your dogmatic brethren supported. Stop trying to place the blame on “government,” when it was conservative politicians in government who were directly responsible.

@ doyle hargraves: tell your story about how great the corps of engineers is to the people of New Orleans.

@ Liberalace: are you seriously saying that the New Deal didn’t work? Seriously?

Federal deposit insurance cut bank failures from more than 4,000 in 1933 to only 9 the next year. There would never be more than 75 failures in any year until Reagan deregulated the savings and loan industry in the 1980s. And Glass-Steagall Act (the Banking Act of 1933, which created FDIC) kept commercial and investment banking separate and limited risk-taking on Wall Street, until it was repealed. The New Deal created the Securities and Exchange commission to regulate Wall Street (under George W. Bush, its enforcement division was gutted). The New Deal created Social Security, which despite conservative whining and criticism, has worked quite well and has contributed not one penny to the debt problem. The New Deal created the TVA, and brought electricity and a better life to people in the rural areas of 7-8 states. And the New Deal led to the construction of more than 650,000 miles of highway, and 8,000 parks, and 125,00 buildings (including schools), and tens of thousands of miles of drainage piping, and nearly 125,000 bridges, among other things. Historians, and those whose lives were positively impacted, say the New Deal worked.

bill, doyle, and ace: are you dudes still denying climate change too?

Staying with the subject- They do manufacture one piece, cast bridges to be used temporarily or permanently installed.

and now on to "democracy"- in order of his spewing

Wall Street bankers did nothing illegal, I guess, or wouldn't their friends in the White House and Justice Department seek prosecution? (maybe John Corzine is the first to fall, Geitner next?)

How about how the Mayor of New Orleans treated the electorate- don't blame the CoE, look what they had to work with.

The New Deal worked! .....but today we are not looking to bring electricity and roads to millions, but broadband to those who do not want or need it. The current fantasy can't work- already admitted to not being shovel ready!

they also had some economist during those years who were not part of the elite. FDR was an elitist, but couldn't balance a checkbook- look at who he brought in to work out the New Deal.

They probably do not "deny" climate change, but more likley deny that "we the people" have as much to do with it as some may want us to think.

"democracy"- now gather your thoughts and get on my case..........I need something to comment on Sunday morning- remember who has owned the economy for the last 3 years (if you say the POTUS inherited it and didn't know how bad it was, then surely he was the wrong choice for the electorate)

Bill, your problem is that you think you have things figured out - at least when it comes to bridge construction.

A 100 foot bridge still has to go through the same processes (design, construction, inspection, etc) as a 'Golden Gate' bridge. Concrete doesn't cure faster because it's only 100 feet long (and there's a lot of it). VDOT inspectors have to test every component of the bridge.

Not to knock on the other commenters on this thread, but they seem to be in commercial construction or site development, and they're like apples and oranges. Design specifications on transportation projects are more stringent, because the live loads they encounter are greater (among other things). Construction specs require more testing because state DOTs want to have low maintenance structures.

This project will take a long time... There are probably construction activities (maybe quality testing) that's going on that you can't see... And chances are that it is a construction activity that is on the critical path, otherwise the contractor would be moving - because these days, about the only way for a contractor to make a profit, is to finish early.

I will bet my life if that bridge contract had bonuses for an aggressive timeline and an early completion. I would have driven across a new bridge today. Money gets things done.

It's VDOT, it's rigged...............

Whole lot of mud slinging goin on. But ain't it great. For me, I look at this iddy biddy project that supposed to take how long? 18 months? And wonder how long it will take to build a bypass if that ever flys, 18 years. Something smells rotten in Denmark. I'll bet if things were better contractors wouldn't even bid on this poultry bridge and if they did it would get done fast just to get it out of the way. What better way to keep yourself busy than to inflate construction times. And contractors do talk to one another. And Harry? No, Wallstreet didn't do anything overtly illegal but had the SEC done their jobs instead of being paid to look the other way we wouldn't be in this mess. Giving triple A ratings to to sub prime mortgages and misleading investors smacks of corruption, but who cared? Nobody.

@ Chris M "Design specifications on transportation projects are more stringent, because the live loads they encounter are greater "

You've just demonstrated that you have no idea what you're talking about. Any parking garage in town (just to name one type of non-transportation project, Scott Stadium would be another) has to bear a significantly higher live load, not to mention the fact that the lower levels of any of them support far more in dead load alone than that bridge ever will no matter how many vehicles it has on it.

The bridge probably does have a higher safety factor than a typical non-critical building, but that just mean that it would be designed to support a higher multiple of its design load. There are lots of ways of doing that, the simplest being increasing beam depth. That shouldn't be a reason for taking several additional months to do the job.

The question about how long it would take to build a bypass is a good one. I wonder how long it would take to build a 9 mile uphill supply line for a reservoir at Ragged Mountain. Imagine the mess that would make for a lot of people.

To stay on subject- the bridge work is a disaster- temp bridges are installed all the time.

Now on to "lots of stuff"

It is a sure thing that Barney Frank and Chris Dodd definately looked the other way. The banks knew that it was not possible to do what Congress suggested they do, but that does not make it wrong. They found a way to bundle the bad debts and dump them.

Now, name one thing that the Wall Street banks did that was against the law, that they were not prosecuted or indicted for. Do you have evidence that the SEC was "paid to look the other way"?

I have evidence that Congress pushed this garbage on us so they could get more votes. They bought votes with our money- PERIOD!

Ask Mr. Frank if he feels responsible based on his Freddie and Fannie(no pun intended) connections. One of his quotes- not taken out of context- "I don't think it's a bad thing that the bad loans occurred."

Ask Mr. Dodd if he "retired" because he knows he is repsonbsible due to his Countrywide Financial connection.

John Corzine may be the tip of the iceberg on this one.

Now back to the bridge....................

@Bill Marshall - you might want to be careful who you accuse of having a small mind. That whole "glass houses" thing and all...

"The point is that the "competitive bid" proces is RIGGED from the start because the people at VDOT have no incentive to secure anything except the lowest bid."

followed by...

"and Democracy, paying TO MUCH for the bridge is why we are broke. "

Guy - you are contradicting yourself! Don't you want the government to spend as little as possible?

Buried in your rant is general assertion that a cheaper bridge could be had if there were fewer "appearance options" and that the city and VDOT just spec'd out too fancy a bridge. Looking at the rendering, I'm not sure what fancy "appearance" options you're talking about; the exposed I-beams? The cast concrete railings? It does look like they will be putting a stamped/cast concrete facing over the foundations, but I doubt that's responsible for more than a single-digit percentage of the total cost and unlikely to be responsible for much of the time budget either.

You seem to want to say that any business contracting for a bridge would magically come up with something more efficient - what would that be? Cheaper materials and a need to re-build it even sooner? What "appearance options" would you leave off of this project to make it cheaper or faster?

I think the observations of the engineering prof. hit the nail on the head: the foundation and prep work - which cannot be done while leaving the existing bridge open - is the real cost driver in money and time. Given how disruptive this project is and how vital JPA turns out to be as a major arterial, I'm kind of glad they're doing it right and putting in something which will last for a long long time.

"Causing traffic backups and starving busineses for 18 months instead of 6 months is why we are broke."

This is hilarious. The assertion that the economic losses from the construction from lost revenue at those locations is just ridiculous. We are in a downturn - all spending is down. I'd love to see an analysis of lost tax revenue due to the reduced business versus the cost of cutting 12 months off of this project.

Does anyone remember how long the Ridge St. and Main St. bridges took?


"Staying with the subject- They do manufacture one piece, cast bridges to be used temporarily or permanently installed."

You've mentioned this twice. I agree this would have been an ideal solution - route the traffic over a temporary structure. Can you tell me where you'd locate that? Which one of these businesses or apartment buildings would you tear down? How much would the temporary road add to the cost of the bridge? How much would construction of temporary footings/foundations add to the cost of the total project?

One other thing, if that bridge were vital to traffic flow going on any other side of that intersection besides the one it is on. Railroad or no railroad, you would have seen it completed in a month and a temporary vehicle bridge in place while under construction. This project is no better than the ones I used to see all the time in New Jersey.

Several people have presented versions of the following two statements:

1) Government is less effective than the private sector, costing more and/or getting inferior results

2) There is a conspiracy of elitists and plutocrats (yes, right here in River City) designed to fleece the hardworking common folk.

The problem is that hardworking commoners offended by elitists very likely went to public (govt) schools. If those who went to public schools can save society from corrupt elitists, then their public education was very effective and cheaper than the alternatives (contradicting theme 1); and by taking it upon themselves to educate others they see as ignorant dupes of those who would exploit them, they are themselves being somewhat elitist by privileging their own perspective (a problem for theme 2).

It is simple. It is more expensive even though it is bid because people with no incentive to meet a budget write the specs. The civil engineers like to exagerate things because they make more money. Regardless of which company gets the bid the bid will be profiable not because of large margins but because of specifications and BS. All the utility companies exxagerate their part, the inspectors exxagerate their part and everybody makes money.

If you don't think that bridge affects the economy you are a fool. Just survey people on both sides of the bridge and ask them if they even once decide to "stay home" instead of eat out because of the bridge ask people if they were late to work or late getting home or late picking up their kid from daycare (and paid a penalty) Ask them if that affects their paychecks.

FDRs version of infrastucture was the Grand Coulee Dam that irrigated over half a million acres creating jobs for farmers for the next 1000 years. Obamas version is to finance high risk PRIVATE solar companies that go bankrupt and then plead the fifth to congress

To Democracy, when the TRILLION dollars student loan bubble collapses who will you blame? Will that be George Bush too? Did Wall Street trick students into taking student loans? Or was that the progressive left that encouraged these poor kids to borrow money and use it for tuition pizza and beer while they jacked up tuition prices faster than the Healthcare industry did with medical costs? Was it Ronald Reagon that convinced kids that if they got a degree in liberal arts that they would be offered 5 figure salaries with full benefits and a company prius?
I will make you a bet.... when the easy loans skyrocketed housing it fell baack to earth when it collapased. When the student loans collapse how much do you wanna bet tuitions stay right where they are.... (Obama will simply borrow money and subsidize it with grants or giveaways)

There is no excuse for this bridge to take a year and a half. None.

Me thinks its all been said, say good night Gracy.

"It is more expensive even though it is bid because people with no incentive to meet a budget write the specs."

Spoken like someone who really has little real experience in these things. Budgeting is one of the biggest pains in the tuckus for folks in municipal planning, and you better believe they pay attention.

Can there be corruption? Sure. But I have yet to find private industry any better about this than government these days.


"Did Wall Street trick students into taking student loans? Or was that the progressive left that encouraged these poor kids to borrow money and use it for tuition pizza and beer while they jacked up tuition prices faster than the Healthcare industry did with medical costs?"

Wall Street didn't 'trick' students into taking loans, but Wall Street had zero risk associated, and managed to get the laws set up so that student loans are not made invalid by declaring bankruptcy. And no, the progressives do not encourage students to take on mountains of debt, they believe in subsidizing education, unlike the right. The right believes education is an 'investment' to be recouped with higher wages in a competitive market.Woops, there goes the elitist snobbery contradiction so bleated by the jealous angry right wing males.

Stop playing victim ideology tim, and get a real job where you have to actually understand something.

the convenience store owner should stop whining and try to make his store more competitive. wayside chicken still seems to do well, and shares the same pathetic parking lot, mainly because it sells a good product. the jpa fast mart got any customers ONLY because it was relatively convenient for six packs, cigs and chips, but its offerings are way inferior to those at the 7-day-junior on the other side of fontaine. on the bright side, fewer of jpa fastmart's traditonal customers shopping there has vastly cut down on the litter that used to be strewn along jpa and stribling and other nearby streeets. and once this bridge is done, with safe walkable access on both side of it, jpa fastmart may see its business pick up over its pre-bridge-replacement levels. in the mean time, offering free coffee with each purchase works only if the coffee is palatable, and doesn't do any favors for your competitors and neighboring sufferers at hoos brew or at atlas coffee, by the way.

" the jpa fast mart got any customers ONLY because it was relatively convenient for six packs, cigs and chips,"

Wasn't that the point of the article, that an 18 month project was making it difficult to attract customers? Do you not understand what a convenience store is?

cookieJar, it got customers BECAUSE its located right in the middle of the majority of UVA off-campus housing

These business owners are struggling, and if we want local stores we need to support them . Please make an effort to shop here even if it is inconvenient.

@ CookieJar; Designing for 2-36kip trucks with a 33% dynamic load allowance plus 640 PLF (per lane) and 1.75 load factor then add the 800 kip static load on substructure units to resist a Cooper E-80 collision, and you have a structure that will take more live load than a parking garage.

Chris M. Those calculations can be done in less than ten minutes by looking at the last 1000 bridges built. It is still just cement and steel. It is not rocket science and it is not hard.

Old Timer, Progressives have controlled education for the last 40 years, they steered kids towards college many of who never should have gone. They did and still do encourage and assist in the student loan and grant programs. The Government was pushing student loans and the banks simply said that if they were going to hand out money without collateral then the government needed to gurantee them or make sure they could not simply walk away. So the compromise was to make it so they couldn't. There is no denying that tuition has skyrocketed without justification. Colleges claim they need to spend more to attract the top students but shouldn;t public schools simply educate everyone that wants an education and meets the criteria the least expensive way possible? They have waiting lists.They artificailly create demand so people will pay. It is a giant scam on society. These kids borrowed money because they want to go to a "good" school and pay way too much to do so. Then they graduate and suffer for ten years paying off the money. I wonder how many have buyers remorse and wish the had spent two years at piedmont and two at UVA instead of 4 at UVA. I wonder if an employer even cares in 9 out of 10 cases. I would bet not.

Tell me, why can an 18 year old go to the government for a 50k UNSECURED low interest loan with nothing in has hand but an acceptance form from a college but that same guy can't get a loan to open a business that has better odds of success.?

These students were bilked... but not by Wall street, they were bilked by the GIANT Educational machine that wants as much of the american GDP as it can get.... just like.....wait for it.........WALL STREET.

Tim Taylor; the three sentences you addressed to me tells me you know nothing about engineering. Stay in school (or go back) - you still have a lot of learning to do.

Chris M .. so you are saying that this bridge is "special" and different than all the other 100 foot long bridges spanning railroad tracks nationwide? It is simple. If all you civil engineers took off to mars those of us left would just get out our measuring tape and see how deep, wide and thick the beams are on the bridges already built that haven't fallen down. We would look at the abutments and figure it out. They have been building bridges long before they new how to measure live loads and lots of them are still standing. More cement and larger beams are still cheaper than engineers and repeated inspections. You guys try and glorify the story of the three pigs by trying to sell the middle house instead of just overbuilding when materials are cheaper than labor and design. You guys make things complicated to make money and act like you have a skill that requires immense amount of skills that can only be provided by years and years of intense education. You aren't fooling anybody. Most of thre engineering feats of the world were designed by regular guys with smarts.Whenever there is a real problem the eggheads call in the guy with the smarts who graduated at the bottom of the class because he was bored. This bridge is not rocket science. It is a tribute to how to waste taxpayers money while inconviencing them at the same time and calling it a success.

Id be curious to the see the educational levels of the guy that designed the old one that lasted quite a while.

What is really good about these comments is that by the time they are all in, and the arguments finished, a bridge could possibly have been built by us.

@ Tim; For this bridge, the railroad apparently wanted enough span length from the new bridge to be long enough to accommodate future tracks. Furthermore, engineers apparently had to maintain the existing grade of the roadway to minimize permanent impacts to adjacent properties – there are probably other reasons for not raising the profile grade line… I don’t know.

The point is this; structural engineers had to be told to lengthen the bridge while keeping the same superstructure depth, probably violating the span to depth ratio requirements because part of the advertisement package included a design waiver for that very scenario.

So, yes – this is a special bridge design that required design waivers from the State Structure and Bridge Engineer in Richmond. You won’t be able to find a similar 100ft bridge anywhere in the US that anybody could copy and apply at this project site.

So they use a thicker steel beam on a larger hunk of concrete. Concrete is CHEAP and the larger beams could only cost a few thousand more than the standard one. Where is the other TEN MILLION NINE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS going?

Just look at any highway overpass.

It is ridiculous to defend the 18 month constuction window and the cost.

Bill; simply using a thicker steel beam won't increase the moment of inertia enough to solve that problem, but I take it that's not exactly your point... I'm not defending the 18 month schedule, I was just trying to offer information as to why it takes so long (because it involves a RR was and still is my answer). The company I work for estimated 13 months, but time isn't part of the equation that VDOT worked into the bid documents. If the public wanted this thing to be built quicker, that should have been brought up at public meetings - but it comes with a price.

"Just look at any highway overpass. " -Your typical highway overpass doesn't have 64 drilled shafts and 16 tie backs to be drilled in place to hold the retaining wall adjacent to the railroad. You might say that's over-engineering, but it's necessary to get the RR to sign off on the agreement, and like I said before; NS can (and typically does) hold a project hostage.

Bill; almost forgot to answer your question about $10M and where it's going... according to the VDOT Dashboard; $2M went to preliminary engineering (which includes project management, engineering, procurement, public outreach, etc). $1.4M went to Right-of-Way acquisition (also easements and other damages to property). And the lowest bidder came in at $5.8M.

You can download the bidtabs from VDOT's website; and find out that the drilled shafts alone cost nearly $2M.


"Old Timer, Progressives have controlled education for the last 40 years, they steered kids towards college many of who never should have gone."

Where do you get this stuff? I mean really? Progressives control education? Who are these mythical people you are talking about? Do you think Liberty University is run by Progressives? Notre Dame?

Kids are being 'steered' towards college because they have been told that Unions suck and their jobs are going to cheap labor countries overseas.So they need to get jobs in other industries. Unless they want to salt fries at McDonalds. Add to that the right wing that seems terrified of people with educations and is always gutting the budget, and viola.

Nothing Progressive about it.

I think you need to take off your tinfoil hat for a little bit.

Poor HarryD,

He just recites the stuff he gets from Fox fake news and Rush Limbaugh and the other conservative liars.

First, what happened on Wall Street was indeed illegal. It's called fraud, HarryD. And any number of Wall Street banks and brokerages paid big fines for what they did.., I already documented some of those fines. But few if any of the big-time players got prosecuted or sent to jail. They buy their way out.

And HarryD...Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were not the source of the mortgage meltdown. That's more conservative tripe. Read the article linked below:

Here are some excerpts for you, HarryD:

"Federal Reserve Board data show that:

* More than 84 percent of the subprime mortgages in 2006 were issued by private lending institutions.
* Private firms made nearly 83 percent of the subprime loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers that year.
* Only one of the top 25 subprime lenders in 2006 was directly subject to the housing law that's being lambasted by conservative critics."

"at the height of the housing boom in 2005 and 2006, Republicans and their party's standard bearer, President Bush, didn't criticize any sort of lending, frequently boasting that they were presiding over the highest-ever rates of U.S. homeownership."

"Between 2004 and 2006, when subprime lending was exploding, Fannie and Freddie went from holding a high of 48 percent of the subprime loans that were sold into the secondary market to holding about 24 percent...One reason is that Fannie and Freddie were subject to tougher standards than many of the unregulated players in the private sector who weakened lending standards, most of whom have gone bankrupt or are now in deep trouble."

Interestingly, a huge percentage of the loads that Fannie and Freddie DID buy were misrepresented asA AA securities when they were nowhere near that. The banks that sold the loans and the ratings agencies that evaluated them lied. Flat out.

But the Bush administration bailed these guys out.

HarryD makes the vapid statement that Obama "owns" this economy. Perhaps, but he sure did not create it and he did ameliorate it. He also got stuck with two very badly managed and unfunded wars (HarryD...where WERE those WMDs?). Obama inherited a broken economy and a final BUsh budget that was an extra $1.3 trillion in deficit. And at every turn, Republicans have tried to hamper his efforts to turn things around. Senate Republican Mitch McConnell made clear that helping the nation was not what his party was interested in.

In a democracy we get the kind of government we pick. Conservative talk radio and Fox and conservative commenters are steadfastly engaged in misleading the citizenry. They obfuscate, they misrepresent, and they lie. They refuse to take any responsibility for what their policies have caused. But the evidence is there: under presidents Reagan, Bush1 and Bush2 deficits and debt exploded. None of them ever submitted a balanced budget (or vetoed one for that matter). It wasn't was them. Only Clinton balanced budgets and paid down debt, and did that in part by raising taxes on the wealthy (without a single Republican vote) and cutting wasteful military spending.

The original conservatives in America –– the Tories –– favored the British and their policies. All through the nation's history conservatives have pushed policies that benefitted the wealthy at the expense of everybody else. They were against ending slavery. They were against the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. They were against opening up the vote to blacks and women and 18-year-olds, and they seek to suppress voting now.
They deny climate change, and some even disbelieve the overwhelming scientific evidence for evolution.
And they refuse to admit that they and their policies were the major causes of the Great Depression and the Great Recession.

HarryD and Tim T. and billy-boy can believe whatever they want. But they are not free to just make up their own facts.

Chris M If the railroads hold power than it is the JOB of government to bring them in check. They can anytime they want but the politicians are afraid to do so because they get money to back off. So the city folds like a cheap suit. VDOT folds like a cheap suit. There is no reason why the beams cannot hold the abutments against the sides. If the state would do its job then we could solve this problem for all future bridges and save time and money.

The entire point is that the government is doing a poor job at the taxpayer expense. Everybody in the money chain plays along because it is in their financial interest and people like democracy defend it as okay. It is not and it should be fixed but people just roll with it and the inconvience and expense just keeps accumulating.

Perhaps a good story for the Hook would be to look at how much it actually cost to drill two million dollars worth of holes, and how any hours of design and supervison we are getting foe another two million. We should also look at who got paid for easements and whether the government buys them from utilities at one price but sells them to utilities at a much lower price somewhere else. Perhaps if the bridge were three feet less wide we could have avoided a million dollars worth of easement and restoration expenses. These are the choices that busineses make everyday. Government should be better stewards of our money.

The taxpayers are getting screwed and don't even know it. This type of thing is what the press is for.

Bill; you should really attend a public hearing for the next project in your neighborhood... all of these questions you're asking that are project specific will be answered in writing and recorded in a courthouse. (not being sarcastic)

The railroad holds the power because it is their property that VDOT is spanning. When a property owner forfeits an easement or purchase for ROW, they are compensated for damages and it's costly, but manageable - but a railroad (like NS or CSX) could hypothetically claim 10's of millions in damages if VDOT were to try to condemn their property. And this happens in every state (not just VA). Sure, you could take the political route, but there's a limit to which you can play that game.

Lastly, the beams will connect to the abutment backwall for a jointless superstructure, but the backwall and beams must allow freedom for thermal expansion. If you tried to create a rigid frame that is 23 ft tall with fill behind it and the beams expanding, you'll see large horizontal cracks in the retaining wall.

Jiminy Crickets, I still say if it takes 18mo to build this iddy biddy bridge how long will it take to build the ones needed for the bypass? I'll never live to see them. I don't give a rats behind about bridge specs, I'm sure its all figured out in any engineers puter which any of us could probably find online. The question is why 18mo ? Being from New York suffering from terminal cynicism, this contract stinks. They'd still be building 64 if these contractors had their way back then. 100ft, paleeeeeeeeeeese.

Back to the topic: what would you do to support the businesses affected? I'd have three course of action:
A) Suspend the businesses' taxes for the duration of the project: corporate, sales/food, property. Not sure what that would amount to but it would be a nice gesture on the part of the city and state.
B) Give each business some of the $11M budget to get them through (in the example, the Fast Mart reports being down to $30k a year from $60-70k, on the low end 18 mo x $30k = $540,000). Assume each of the 4-5 businesses is affected similarly, we're looking at $2-2.5M.
C) Somehow direct City and/or UVA business (e.g. catering or haircuts), or have City meetings/events at these locations. Get creative: none of the places is suitable, really, but the City owes them some consideration.

Old timer, I don't wear a tin foil hat, I am just informed. I contend that the progressives in this country say that all education needs is more money when money has not yeilded anything but more beauracracy. They spend 26k a year per kid in DC and still have a 40% drop out rate. The obama administration ended vouchers that WORKED. The liberals fired the superintendent (michelle rhee) because she got rid of bad teachers. You are the one who needs to get a clue.

What a shame for that business.

democracy- any comment on the article and the bridge?

I am curious as to whether there could have been a temporary bridge built to accomodate minimal, but satisfactory traffic.

has anyone bruhgt up the public safety issue of not having a bridge in place? They did that with the Advance Mills bridge and it may have helped them to move that along- not sure.....

I am curious as to whether there could have been a temporary bridge built to accomodate minimal, but satisfactory traffic.

has anyone brought up the public safety issue of not having a bridge in place? They did that with the Advance Mills bridge and it may have helped them to move that along- not sure.....

Lets make an effort to help them out and go out of our way to patronize them! Small business's like these are America.

City Council's business interests seem to be bound by High Street on one side and Water Street on the other.


"I am curious as to whether there could have been a temporary bridge built to accomodate minimal, but satisfactory traffic."

I don't think so; I don't know where you'd put it and how would you connect the roadways, and I think it would HAVE to go on the northern side of the intersection - that was kind of my previous point.

Moreover, if they did somehow get a 2nd set of abutments in and a span up, why would you then build a second, permanent one on the site of the existing bridge and remove the temporary bridge! That would be very expensive.

If there had been room to put up a temporary bridge in the first place, they'd have simply built a new bridge to one side and moved the road bed when they were done. I think of any number of bridges I know like this, but the one that stands out is Carters Bridge on 20s. I think there are now three bridge abutments visible there.

has anyone brought up the public safety issue of not having a bridge in place? They did that with the Advance Mills bridge and it may have helped them to move that along- not sure.....

Yes, I think council did, particularly with all the illegal foot traffic problems, and multiple safety fences the railroad has put up over the years. This has been a huge controversy in the past - the official RR crossings are sparse and pedestrian commuters have crossed illegally for years - a major safety issue! I think that's why council demanded a pedestrian bridge come up before the old bridge could be torn down.

Frankly, as far as I'm concerned, to heck with Mr. Mini Mart: he should have just shuttered his "business" for the 18 months and vacationed in Florida. His business is not built on customer loyalty - it's built on convenience. That will come back when the bridge is back. It's clear that this is a vital traffic artery for a LOT MORE PEOPLE than just the handful on that one corner. There is such a thing as a greater good.

You guys in FS should look into the hole and then go visit the construction office. Currently you have 2 tracks going under the bridge. But they are building a track bead wide enough for 3 or 4 tracks. In fact if you go to the Shamrock grade level crossing and look toward the city you will see the 2 tracks expanding to 4.

I think the City forgot to tell you about this.

When the I-35 Bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed, the new bridge was opened one year and one month after the collapse. If they were able to remove the old debris, design a new bridge from scratch, and build the 8 lane span over the Mighty Mississippi River during a Minnesota Winter, there is no reason this project should take 18 months.

MN Guy- exactly...........that time included an NTSB investigation as well.

Non-resident taxpayer- relating to public safety- I was looking at the ability of medical, police and fire services to get to a site when necessary w/o the bridge in use.

Today is Small Business Saturday, a great day to take some of this amazing debate energy and put it to use supporting these businesses. And please "Like" our JPA Bridge Facebook page!

@HarryD - The fire dept. access to that area is from the main station coming down Ridge. I expect it's a fast for the rescue squad to come up Cherry from the hospital or around on the bypass and 64.

I don't doubt that like the MN bridge, for a larger budget this could be done faster. It would be more expensive.

You have choices: fast, cheap or good; you can have any two, but not all three.

"You have choices: fast, cheap or good; you can have any two, but not all three"

I think that is the fundemental disagreement. The only reason we cannot have all three is because the people involved all have agendas that are not really in the taxpayer interest. The Government wants a fancy bridge with all the ameneities(especially since the state is helping to pay) The designer wants as complicated job as possible to inflate his paycheck (TWO MILLION to design and supervise a 100ft bridge?) and the builder is just happy to build the overdesigned waste of taxpayer money because hes making more than a much simpler and utilitarian design.

The immediate community around the bridge like it because it will all fancy and shiny new with a bike path. Meanwhile the taxpayers and those that need it for commuting are paying for it in time and money.

A simple bridge could easily be designed and constructed much faster for less money. Each 100 ft beam could NOT be more than 10k each. At 67 feet that is 68 beams at a 1 foot spacing. That is 670k in beams. Cement is 100 dollar per cubic yard, An abutment that is 70 feet x15 feet x 40 feet tall is 1555 yards. (70x15x40divided by 27= 1555) That is 155k in Cement. Add in 100k in railings, and 200k in topping and we are still only 1.2 million in materials.

Summbody getting FAT on this deal.


"They spend 26k a year per kid in DC and still have a 40% drop out rate."

Ya don't say. And that has what exactly to do with the progressive somehow running education?

Maybe we should look at the demographics of the Fox News watchers, and their level of ignorance, compared to the horrible progressives destroying education. I guess the childen of progressives somehow figure it out....

As for vouchers, I don't think my tax dollars should go to subsidize private education. Far better to just have no public education. I don't care for my money going to right wing religious madrases, where they do even more brainwashing than the progressives.

Find another dog to hunt if you want to try and make such a weak argument Tim.

tim taylor- you left out the $1MM per beam required to conform to DOT and building "code".

Additional costs for 3-4 "workers" holding up a shovel or moving a port-a-potty. Thought it was a "shovel ready" job- "well, maybe it wasn't such a shovel ready job".

On top of that, it may be a requirement that unions be involved basedd on the railroad being involved, keeping the wages of those workers at high level for the work actually being done...............

Fairly good "looking" plan in Waynesboro- large bridge. No railroad involved, but a PLAN taking into consideration those businesses which will be affected on a MAJOR road for sure.

Government work & being robed, this a new ! get used to it , be going on for 100's of years. Get used to it !

architects making things to complicated to make more money , that there job, the middle man of sort to inflate costs & time line & they say it justifies & only drink a half gallon of gin ! Get used to it!

Should have eminent domain the parcel of C-ville Oil Phil , it's a under used ,under valued corner , then build a true "gateway " to c-ville ! get used to it!

Old Timer, You are a typical progressive.... why not give a voucher of 10k towards a private education that will save the city 16 k (26k less the 10k voucher) ? Oh thats right.. we don't want the "smart kids" with good parents pulling out and leaving behind the others.

DC has been a Democratically run city since the 1960s. Its schools have been a dismal failure. When they fianlly hired michelle Rhee she turned it around only to get railroaded out by the the Teachers Union who backed the Democratic liberal mayor.

Just look at where the NEA spends its money. All democrats. Just look at the losers at OWS liberals... looking for a handout... virtually all products of a progressive educational system...

try and open YOUR eyes.

That dog not only hunts, he finds it, brings it back and drops it in your lap.