01/17/10: “Cold Temps Slow Bridge Installation,” The Free Lance-Star

Cold Temps Slow Bridge Installation
Bridge trusses go up over U.S. 1 in Fredericksburg to connect Eagle Village with the main UMW campus


Kenny Allwine had stern orders for his older son when he entered the University of Mary Washington.

He was not to cross U.S. 1 at night to go to Giant or any of the other shops in Eagle Village, and he was never to go there alone.

“When we first brought him here, we saw the kids running back and forth across Route 1 with bags of groceries,” the King George County man said. “It was a nightmare.

So Allwine, who now co-chairs the university’s Parents Council with his wife, Sherrie, was pleased yesterday as he and their two sons watched construction workers prepare to swing the steel trusses into place for the bridge that will connect Eagle Village with the main campus.

Older son Kenneth graduated in 2003 and is enrolled in UMW’s graduate school in Stafford County, but younger son Kyle hopes to be among the first crop of students to live in the new dormitory being built in Eagle Village when it opens for the fall semester.

“Students are going to have it easier,” Kenneth Allwine said. “They’re not going to have to cross Route 1 and dodge cars with bags of groceries like when I was here.”

The Allwines were among the curious onlookers who began arriving early yesterday morning to watch the installation. U.S. 1 had closed at 8 p.m. Friday from College Avenue to Alvey Road, and they stood in a cordoned-off viewing area near the Country Cookin’ restaurant.

Crews had expected to lift the first section of the bridge into place about 8 a.m. yesterday, but Friday evening’s cold weather forced workers to preheat the steel beams before they could begin welding two sections of the bridge.

“They were not expecting the welding to take so long last night,” Laurie Alloway, structural engineer for the $4.5 million project, said yesterday. “The welders were getting tired, and for safety reasons they were sent home in the middle of the night instead of trying to push through the night.”

For that reason, and the expectation of rain last night, officials decided that U.S. 1 will not reopen until midnight tonight, instead of this afternoon.

“If it becomes necessary to further revise the schedule, a public announcement will be made no later than 4 p.m., said Doug Fawcett, director of the Fredericksburg Public Works Department.

People, many of whom brought along cameras, came and went yesterday as it became apparent that the massive crane wouldn’t begin lifting the first of two sections into place until the afternoon. Some compared it to the demolition of Embrey Dam in 2004, which famously took two tries before it was blasted from the Rappahannock River.

A cheer went up about 1:20 p.m. when the crane finally lifted the first section, but cables had to be readjusted and welds inspected before it could be swung across U.S. 1 and anchored in the tower on the Eagle Village side about 40 minutes later. That operation took about 10 minutes.

Another crane lifted the second, shorter span of trusses into place about 5:38 p.m., and welders began melding the steel of the two spans together.

Jeff Rountree, UMW Foundation CEO and president of Eagle Property Holdings, and a handful of guests watched some of the work from the deck atop what will be a common area for students in the Eagle Landing dormitory.

“The [bridge] site worked beautifully from a topographical standpoint,” he told them. “There are knolls on either side of the road, so we have an 18-foot clearance off the road. VDOT requires about 16.”

He said that the foundation would have had to build two-story towers with elevators and stairs if the bridge had been built at the intersection of U.S. 1 and College Avenue, and students probably wouldn’t have used it.

Rountree also said that Mary Washington Hospital has agreed to allow a vehicular road connecting Eagle Village with the hospital campus, which could help bring more business to Eagle Village retailers and restaurants.

Traffic was visibly lighter than normal yesterday, and no problems were reported.

“We’re very pleased with how things have gone,” Fawcett said. “It appears that there has been a very high level of cooperation by the public.”

Cathy Jett: (540) 374-5407
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Published: January 17, 2010 by The Free Lance-Star

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