Crews Test Out New Technology On VA’s Rte. 123

Fri September 17, 2004 - Southeast Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

In Prince William County, VA, crews currently are working to build a new bridge to carry Route 123 over the Occoquan River. The replacement is the final phase of a larger project to widen Route 123 for 8 mi. (12.8 km) between Burke Lake Road in Fairfax County and the Occoquan River.

Upon completion, the $24.6 million concrete span will include three lanes in each direction with 10-ft. (3 m) shoulders, a median and a sidewalk on the south side of the bridge. On the southbound side, a 640-ft. (195 m) long, 12-ft. (3.7 m) sound barrier between the travel lanes and the sidewalk will protect four apartment balconies. In addition, the approaches to the bridge will be reconstructed to incorporate them into an existing six-lane section in Prince William County and a new six-lane section in Fairfax County.

The project is under the direction of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and is 100 percent federally funded. VDOT worked with the town of Occoquan to design the bridge to be compatible with the historic waterfront community.

According to VDOT, the town selected the sound wall’s color, the decorative railings and columns, the arched girders and the brick imprint on the pier bases. VDOT granted the town’s request to increase the bridge clearance to 44 ft. (13.4 m) to allow for taller sailboats. It also moved the sound wall to the inside of the sidewalk to make it visually less obtrusive. The design allows the public to continue to park in 40 parking spaces under the bridge during construction.

The bridge currently carries about 32,000 vehicles a day and by 2020 is expected to carry a daily load of 119,000 vehicles.

Ryan J. Hall, VDOT public affairs coordinator, noted that the project is approximately 18 percent behind schedule. “VDOT is working closely with the contractor to come up with a recovery plan to bring the project in on time,” he said.

The prime contractor on the project is Archer Western Contractors LTD of Chicago.

According to Hall, crews will drill 918 ft. (27 m) shafts for the bridge’s substructure, for which 893,800 lbs. (405,421 kg) of epoxy-coated reinforcing steel will be placed. A total of 2.6 million pounds (1.2 million kg) of regular reinforcing steel also will be used and 128 concrete beams will support the bridge deck. In addition, crews will use a total of 402,600 cu. ft. of concrete.

Hall noted, “This is the first time that the Virginia Department of Transportation has used post-tensioned, bulb-T concrete beams in any of its construction projects. Using new construction materials and new techniques presents a challenge as there are many unknown factors. Another challenge is working in a relatively tight construction zone while trying to balance the needs of the town of Occoquan and its residents and visitors with the needs of the construction team and bringing the project in on time and on budget.”

Depending on the nature of the day’s work, a total of 10 to 50 people are assigned to the job at one time.

Equipment includes a Volvo L90E rubber-tired loader, a John Deere 330LC trackhoe, a Link-Belt 110-ton crane and a Grove crane.

Phase 1 of the Route 123 widening project covered Burke Lake Road to Lee Chapel Road, a total of 2.4 mi. (3.8 km). It began in January 2002 and was completed in July 2003.

Phase 2 covered Lee Chapel Road to North Davis Road, a total of 2.5 mi. (4 km). It began in August 2002, and was completed this summer.

Phase 3 covers North Davis Drive to Route 722, a distance of 1.9 mi. (3 km). It began in May 2003 and is scheduled for completion in October 2004.

Phase 4 is the bridge project, which covers 640 ft. (195.1). It began in October 2003 and is scheduled for completion in May 2006.