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Flippo Begins North Fork River Bridge Job

Tue January 03, 2006 - Southeast Edition
Angela B. Hurni

Since the Oct. 24 groundbreaking ceremony, work has been moving ahead on reconstruction of the North Fork River Bridge in the Front Royal area of Warren County, VA.

The bridge spans the North Fork of the Shenandoah River and the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks. The Commonwealth Transportation Board awarded the $19.2 million contract to Forrestville, MD-based Flippo Construction Co. Inc.

The existing three-lane bridge, located on Route 340/522 just outside the Front Royal town limits, opened to traffic in November 1941. Several factors prompted the Virginia Department of Transportation to reconsider this project, which had been put on hold for some time.

In 2004, the traffic count for this portion of Route 340/522 was 25,000 vehicles per day. Increased traffic volume creating a bottleneck on this highway was one major reason that the project was allowed to proceed.

Flippo’s contract consists of replacing the existing bridge with a new five-lane structure that will include bike lanes in both the northbound and southbound directions. The approaches to the bridge will incorporate dual north and southbound through lanes and will have turn lanes at adjacent connections and entrances. The project also includes sidewalks on each side of the bridge.

During the job, portions of the existing bridge substructure will remain in place and be used in conjunction with the new construction improvements. John Sullivan is the project manager employed by Rummel, Klepper & Kahl LLP based in Baltimore, MD, which has been contracted as the consulting engineer firm on this project. According to Sullivan, once the northbound portion is built, crews will “go to the existing bridge and take the pier columns down to a few feet above the ordinary high water line. From that point up, they are going to build a new structure.”

In addition to taking down the pier columns, the North Fork River Bridge project also consists of leaving the foundation in place, demolishing the north and south abutments, and demolishing the deck and superstructure. The contractor will then replace the abutments for the new structure, which will be 1,088 ft. (332 m) in length. The new deck will be constructed of composite steel and concrete while the sides of the bridge will have parapet walls and steel railings.

Flippo’s contract includes associated road improvements. The Route 55/Strasburg Road intersection will be reconstructed and signals will be installed there as well as at the Duck Street intersection. Furthermore, portions of Route 340 have to be widened to handle the traffic approaching the new bridge. Tom Miller, general superintendent for Flippo, listed the associated improvements as “widening, new signalization, new water services, storm drainage work and a retention pond.”

So far, crews have built a 20 ft. (6 m) wide and 70 ft. (21 m) long access road at the Northeast end of the bridge. Also, according to Miller, the support of excavation for the north and south abutments has begun as well as erosion sediment control and clearing and grubbing.

“We hope to start bearing production pile in the next three to four weeks,” stated Miller. Miller estimated the earthmoving on this job to be roughly 3,500 to 5,000 cu. yds. (2,675 to 3,800 cu m) and that the project is about 10 percent complete. The project is scheduled to be completed Sept. 1, 2009.

Up to now, a Caterpillar 963 loader has been used to put in the access road. Flippo is also using a John Deere 330 excavator for various tasks. The pile driver subcontractor will be using a 40-ton (36 m t) crane to install piles. According to Miller, at the end of January the company is purchasing an 85-ton (77-t) Kubota crawler crane for use on the project. A 200-ton (180-t) crane will also be on hand for the demolition of the old bridge.

The bridge is located in one of Virginia’s most scenic destinations parallel to Skyline Drive, which allows views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park.

Sullivan summed it up: “It’s going to be a beautiful bridge.” CEG

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