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November 5, 2020

Restored Waterloo Bridge truss flies back into place

I know it’s a small thing, but I think it’s neat that they take it apart and put it back together again. It’s like a Lego.
— Culpeper resident Stephanie House
Waterloo Bridge Project
• What: Restoration of wrought iron truss span with wooden deck, erected in 1878 and renovated in 1919.

• Where: Waterloo Road (Route 613) across Rappahannock River, south of Orlean and about seven miles west of Warrenton, connecting Fauquier and Culpeper counties.

• Closed: January 2014 because of deterioration.

• Planned re-opening: April 20, 2021. But the bridge could re-open “months” ahead of schedule because of good weather and the truss required less restoration that expected.

• Iron truss removed for restoration: April 29.

• Iron truss re-installed: Thursday, Nov. 5.

• Contractor: Corman Kokosing Construction Co., Annapolis Junction, Md.

• Cost: $3.65 million.

• VDOT project info: Click here
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Waiting patiently and sometimes in awe Thursday morning, they watched the resetting of the Waterloo Bridge’s iron truss that spans the Rappahannock River and connects Fauquier and Culpeper counties.

The Virginia Department of Transportation shut the 142-old bridge near Orlean for safety reasons in January 2014.

In late April, a crane operator used the machine’s boom to hoist from its stone abutments and lower the 62,101-pound truss to a staging area for restoration along the Fauquier side of the river.

Corman Kokosing Construction Co. of Annapolis Junction, Md., which won the $3.65 million contract to save single-lane bridge, started work on the truss in early May and applied the final coat of green paint last week.

> Video at bottom of story

Rick Dickman, 66, a contractor who lives near Orlean and frequently used the bridge, watched workers prepare and place the restored truss.

“It’s just a beautiful historic structure,” said Mr. Dickman, who has kept tabs on the project during the last six months. “I’m into construction, so I enjoy coming and seeing how it was put together.”

A retired U.S. government worker, Paul Barry of Culpeper County lives within minutes of the bridge.

“It’s good to see the project completed,” said Mr. Barry, 67, who admitted he has “mixed feelings” about the return of bridge-related traffic to the area. “But, all and all, it’s a good thing.”

Before its closure, the historic bridge carried an average of 630 vehicles per day.

On her way to work Thursday morning, Culpeper resident Stephanie House, who lives the near the bridge, briefly stopped by the site.

“I think it’s amazing,” Ms. House, 55, said of the project. “It’s a piece of history. I’ve travelled across this bridge for many years.”

An assistant cheese maker at Locksley Farmstead Cheese Co. near Middleburg, she added: “I know it’s a small thing, but I think it’s neat that they take it apart and put it back together again. It’s like a Leggo.”

The Warrenton-based Piedmont Environmental Council and some citizens had pushed to save the span because of it cultural and historical importance.

PEC Fauquier field representative Julie Bolthouse played a key role in that effort.

“This is the oldest one in the state,” Ms. Bolthouse said at the site. “lt’s extremely exciting to see it rehabilitated. And it’s really cool they did it all here.”

To help close a funding gap, PEC gave a presentation of the project to Russell A. Hitt, who owned Hitt Construction in Falls Church and property near the bridge in Rappahannock County.

Mr. Hitt, who had long-time family ties to the area, and his wife Joan later gave $1 million toward rehabilitation.

“I wish Russell could see it,” said Ms. Bolthouse, PEC’s Fauquier field representative.

Mr. Hitt died in September at age 85.

Workers began to prepare the truss for placement about 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

Three hours later, it took the operator of the 550-ton crane about 12 minutes to hoist and lower the truss into place.

Workers finished the truss restoration part of the project about seven weeks ahead of the expected Dec. 22 completion date.

“Basically, they got good weather,” VDOT Communications Manager Lou Hatter explained. “They apparently did not have to do as much restoration work as they thought.”

That means vehicles probably will be crossing the approximately 366-foot long bridge “months” before the originally scheduled April 20 reopening, Mr. Hatter said.

He couldn’t be more specific about an earlier reopening date because of uncertainty over how weather could affect construction, the VDOT spokesman said.

Contact Don Del Rosso at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-0300.

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