Chatham Bridge looking from Fredericksburg to Stafford

Matt Kelly to Host Chatham Bridge Forum

by | Sep 9, 2016 | Government

By Susan Larson. Photo provided by Matt Kelly.

City Councilman Matt Kelly (at-large) is hosting a walking tour of Chatham Bridge beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept 10.

“I’m just trying to get the public informed on the issues that will come into play as the Chatham Bridge project moves forward; what can be done and what can’t be done,” Kelly said. “I have preliminary information on the project parameters and issues.”

Participants should meet at the city parking lot next to The Old Stone Warehouse, 923 Sophia St., Fredericksburg.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) in June approved the latest Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP), which allocated $625.5 million for 120 transportation projects in the Fredericksburg District, including money for Chatham Bridge replacement.

Since its construction in 1941, no significant work has been done on the bridge, beyond resurfacing.

During a scheduled annual inspection in 2014, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) found continued deterioration of the bridge’s main steel beams, and responded by reducing the maximum weight for crossing the bridge to 21 tons for single-unit vehicles and 26 tons for tractor trailers.

“The weight limit will reduce the amount of stress being placed on the crossing by larger loads, and help keep the bridge in serviceable condition while we develop plans for a new structure,” said Annette Adams, VDOT district structure and bridge engineer.

Vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle traffic are all considerations for a new bridge.

“When discussing widening the bridge, two issues come forward,” Kelly said. “On the city side, we have The Old Stone Warehouse. On the Stafford side, widening will require National Park Service approval. As the existing piers are being used, significant realignment is not an option.”

“The existing sidewalks are four feet wide,” Kelly said. “To make a true pedestrian/bike trail would require 10 feet. Do we consider doing only one side or both? If one side, which one. How does that effect traffic lanes? Also note that any type of structure to separate pedestrian from vehicle traffic would have to meet VDOT vehicle impact standards, which would require the need for additional space.”

An average of 14,000 vehicles a day cross Chatham Bridge, according to VDOT. It’s 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.

For more information, see Kelly’s Facebook post https://www.facebook.com/stateyournamefortherecord/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1171578686219340

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