Clarke County’s newest bridge opened on Castleman Ferry Road on Friday. The new bridge, which is located just a mile north of Virginia Route, replaces a previous bridge that spans a small creek on the way to Holy Cross Abbey.
VDOT’s Edinburg program manager Edwin Carter said that the old bridge was constructed in 1932.
“Typically bridges of that era were designed for a 50-year life expectancy” Carter said.
Given that the Route 603 bridge has provided 30 years more service to taxpayers than expected it is no surprise that the structure was showing its age.
“We have a regularly scheduled inspection program for all of our structures and the results are shown in a condition rating system of 1-9 – with 1 being the worst – for each of the major components” Carter said. “In this case the superstructure was rated a 4.”
The bridge’s poor condition prompted VDOT officials to post a 15 ton load limit on the structure, a problem for large trucks and some farm vehicles that frequent the route. The new bridge, however, removes in concerns for large vehicles.
“The new bridge will be unrestricted with the exception of existing State/Federal requirements for axle weights and oversize or overweight vehicles” according to Carter.
Work on the bridge commenced in early August requiring closure of the road and forcing drivers to detour approximately ten miles via Shepherd’s Mill road.
Carter said that VDOT’s typical bridge crew has six workers. Because the Route 603 bridge replacement is considered a maintenance project, no public hearing on the road closure was required. Budget figures on the bridge cost were not immediately available.