You asked: Bridges on Kings Highway, Mineral Springs

Published 9:52 pm Saturday, October 26, 2013

A bridge on Mineral Springs Road near Arthur Lane was closed for a month for repairs. … There was a huge crane in place for a few weeks. … I live near this bridge and cross it often and for the life of me I could not tell you what was done to it. It still looks the same. … It still sounds like it’s going to collapse, (the) deck timbers still rattle and bang when you cross it and the road approaches still look like they were washed out. — J.S., Suffolk

Suffolk city spokeswoman Diana Klink says the bridge repairs are ongoing. The bridge was built in 1955, she said in an email, and “has experienced some deterioration commensurate with its age.”

Structural engineers regularly inspect all Suffolk bridges, Klink said, determining required maintenance and the suitability of load ratings.

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“Following this bridge’s last inspection, it was determined that the support pilings and underpinnings were in need of replacement, but that the decking was still serviceable,” she said.

The bridge in question was found to be one of two in the area in similar condition, Klink said. With replacing each bridge estimated at $1 million to $5 million, and the decking still serviceable, the city took the rehabilitation route, she indicated.

The crane work was performed under an annual services contract, replacing pilings and underpinnings. “If you were to look over the side of the bridge, you would see all new steel supports,” Klink said, adding this would give the bridge another five to ten years for the cost of $216,015.

City workers will also be working on the deck and guardrails. “Work is ongoing and some pieces are being fabricated at this time,” Klink said.

City staff visited the bridge and did not detect any noises that would give cause for alarm, according to Klink.

However, they did notice a small part of the wooden deck had worked itself loose.

“This is not a safety or structural deficiency but it will be addressed with the remaining deck work,” Klink said.

Work to the bridge is expected to result in a load rating the same or higher, Klink said. Resurfacing of the approaches and the bridge deck is scheduled for when the other work is complete, but cooler weather may waylay that work until next spring.

Also, Klink said, both bridges are slated for replacement in the future.

What is the update on the Kings Highway Bridge? Will it ever reopen to provide an alternate route between downtown and the northern end? — D.J., Suffolk

The King’s Highway Bridge was 77 years old when the Virginia Department of Transportation closed it for safety reasons on March 19, 2005, according to the city of Suffolk.

Stretching across the Nansemond River on Route 125, the bridge was a 2,540 foot-long double swing-span drawbridge, city spokeswoman Diana Klink confirmed.

A private citizen built the bridge in 1928, operating it as a toll bridge until VDOT bought it for $1 million in 1963, according to Klink.

For locals in Chuckatuck and other North Suffolk communities, the bridge offered a quicker drive back to the Nansemond Parkway corridor and Interstate 664, as well as downtown to Suffolk, while also bringing more out-of-town tourists.

VDOT removed the bridge in 2007.

Enough of the history lesson: Klink says there is currently no federal, state or local funding allocation to replace the bridge, a project listed on the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization list of transportation project priorities.

Within that list, the estimated $90-million bridge has a priority score of 139. Alongside seven other unfunded bridge and tunnel projects, that score puts it seventh place, four points in front of a replacement bridge over Lake Maury in Newport News.

“The city of Suffolk continues to lobby state and federal officials for funding to replace the King’s Highway Bridge,” Klink stated.