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BY SCOTT SHENK
The concrete sidewalk rehabilitation project on the busy Falmouth Bridge is going to take longer than expected.
Instead of finishing this month as expected, work is still in the early stages, according to Virginia Department of Transportation officials. Sections of the northbound sidewalk have been chipped away and covered with plywood on the U.S. 1 span over the Rappahannock River.
The job is now projected to continue into February.
The reason for the delay is simple. Once work started on the 69-year-old bridge, crews discovered that the concrete is "more severely deteriorated than expected," said VDOT spokeswoman Kelly Hannon. "There's more repairs to be done."
Over the years the accumulation of moisture and salt treatments during snowstorms have contributed to the corrosion of the concrete and steel reinforcement bars beneath the surface, Hannon said.
Plus, the four-lane bridge linking Fredericksburg and Stafford County is really old.
Work is now being done on the northbound side during the week from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. After that sidewalk is repaired, crews will move to the southbound side.
One lane of the bridge will be closed while crews are working, and pedestrians will not be able to use the side of the bridge where work is being done.
Some of the work is loud; jackhammers and other equipment is being used to break apart the deteriorating concrete.
The Falmouth Bridge is a major thoroughfare in the Fredericksburg area, handling about 30,000 vehicle trips per day.
Built in 1943, the bridge is labeled "functionally obsolete" because it can no longer handle the heavy traffic flow. It also has surpassed the 50-year life cycle set by federal guidelines.
The sidewalks are in bad shape. Reinforcing steel bars protrude from several sections of the sidewalks, especially at the city end on the southbound side of the bridge, where a long metal plate covers a seriously crumbled section. The lampposts were removed years ago because of the condition of the concrete.
VDOT says the bridge is safe. It passed an inspection in October, but with low ratings.
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436