Chatham Bridge Weight Limits Set to Protect Structure

by | Jun 21, 2015 | Government

By Susan Larson

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will be posting new weight limit signs for Chatham Bridge, where Rt. 3 crosses the Rappahannock River between downtown Fredericksburg and Stafford County near Chatham Manor.

A scheduled annual inspection of the bridge found continued deterioration of the bridge’s main steel beams, VDOT said.

The maximum weight for crossing the bridge will be 21 tons for single-unit vehicles and 26 tons for tractor trailers.  VDOT expects to have signs in place by Friday, May 16.

“The weight limit will reduce the amount of stress being placed on the crossing by larger loads,” said Annette Adams, VDOT district structure and bridge engineer. “We regret that the restrictions will inconvenience a small number of drivers who must take an alternate route, but this step will help keep the bridge in serviceable condition while we develop plans for a new structure.”

Previously, vehicles crossing the Chatham Bridge had to comply only with the statewide maximum weight limit for all bridges and structures, which is 27 tons for a single-unit truck, and 40 tons for tractor-trailers.

VDOT followed the annual inspection with an additional structural analysis, which studies how much stress a bridge can accommodate from different load weights. “The analysis concluded that a bridge posting was recommended to limit the weight from loads crossing Chatham Bridge,” Adams said.

An average of 14,000 vehicles a day cross Chatham Bridge.  Built in 1941, it is a 10-span structural steel bridge, with asphalt pavement over a concrete deck. The bridge is 1,006 feet long and 40 feet wide between curbs.

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