Improvements to VA’s Longest Road Continue in DOT Lynchburg District

Thu July 24, 2003 - Northeast Edition
Angela B. Hurni

U.S. Route 58 is the longest single road in Virginia, stretching along the state’s southern border from the Atlantic Ocean to its southwest tip.

Construction on Route 58 has occurred or is presently under way in more than 25 different counties. Route 58 passes through five Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) districts — Hampton Roads, Richmond, Lynchburg, Salem and Bristol.

The Lynchburg District is comprised of 10 counties in the south-central portion of Virginia. In Pittsylvania County, part of the Lynchburg District, the city of Danville is having work performed on its segment of Route 58 as part of the Corridor Development Program.

Route 58 is Danville’s major east/west route, and it provides direct access to the ports of Hampton Roads, including Norfolk, Portsmouth and Newport News.

The Route 58 Bypass of Danville project is comprised of work on many bridges. This includes the new construction of 12 structures, rehabilitating two structures, widening of one existing structure, and the demolition of two existing structures.

The bridges will consist of a variety of contemporary design concepts: prestressed girders, high-strength structural steel plate girders and integral abutments. The span lengths for the twin structures over the Dan River include the longest span lengths in the Lynchburg District. The bridge design firms appointed by VDOT for this project are T.Y.Lin International and The Louis Berger Group Inc.

The Route 58 Bypass of Danville project is separated into three distinct projects. Roanoke, VA-based Branch Highways Inc. was the general contractor on the first project, which began in August 2000. This phase consisted of building a four-lane highway, beginning at the intersection of the existing Route 58 and ending 2.7 mi. (4.35 km) south in Pittsylvania County. Also included in this phase was the construction of four bridges.

According to Henry McDaniel, project manager of Branch Highways, the bridges were constructed of class 6 concrete beams, weighing 80 tons (73 t) apiece.

Transporting these large beams was an issue for the company. In order to get the beams to Danville, they had to be hauled across the Chesapeake Bay. As a result, Branch Highways had two options — either transport them via trucks over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel or ship them across the water by way of barges.

The company chose the latter option because of new tunnel regulations and the fact that permitting had changed, making the move by trucks too restrictive. The new regulations would have required each beam to have been transported separately across the Bridge-Tunnel, a costly and time-consuming endeavor.

Consequently, “They barged the beams to Virginia Beach,” explained McDaniel, “then they were transported by truck.”

In order to move the beams at the job site, Branch Highways rented a 365-ton (298 t) truck crane from Guy M. Turner Inc., Greensboro, NC. The project was completed on schedule in June 2003.

“We had a time consideration of June 13, and we finished on time,” said McDaniel.

Haymes Brothers, Chatham, VA, is the general contractor for the second and third phases of the project.

The second phase, which has been under construction since May 2000, is a four-lane project, beginning 2.5 mi. (4 km) south of existing Route 58 and ending 1.3 mi. (2 km) west of the existing Route 29 bypass. Approximately 3.1 mi. (5 km) of Route 58 will be constructed on the new location, and there will be two bridges constructed as well. The original completion date for the second phase was July 2003. It has, however, been extended.

“It [the completion date] has been pushed back to earlier next year — March 2004 — mostly due to rain delays,” said Paula Jones, public affairs manager for VDOT’s Lynchburg District. “In addition to the weather, there is a delay associated with the railroad bridge.”

Haymes Brothers began construction on the third phase of the Route 58 Bypass of Danville in December 2000. This part of the Corridor Development Program involves construction of approximately 2.3 mi. (3.7 km) of Route 58 on the new location. The four-lane project begins 1.3 mi. (2 km) west of the intersection with the Route 29 bypass and ends 1 mi. (1.6 km) east of Route 29. Additionally, the project consists of the construction of eight bridges.

Williams Bridge Company of Manassas and Richmond, VA, supplied approximately 3,000 tons (2,722 t) of steel for Haymes Brothers to build the Route 58 Bypass bridge over the Dan River. The anticipated completion date for this third project is November 2003.

The U.S. Route 58 Corridor Development Program will continue on for many years with work being performed in various cities, counties and VDOT districts.

In 1989, the Virginia General Assembly established the U.S. Route 58 Corridor Development Program to improve safety while traveling on the mostly two-lane, winding and hilly road. The program also proposes to enhance economic development in the region, which is largely rural.

Corridor improvements will cost an estimated $1.7 billion over the course of the project, funded through revenue bonds and transportation revenue sources. Route 58 is such a large road project that it will take many years and much effort to complete the research and planning, design and engineering, and finance and construction. The historical aspects and natural resources of the corridor also must be protected.

The U.S. Route 58 Corridor Development Program is a construction project that covers approximately 680 mi. (1,094 km), including related improvements. When the program was developed in 1989, there were 271 existing mi. (433 km). Presently, approximately 370 mi. (592 km) of the roadway are four lanes or more, compared to the 240 mi. (384 km) when the program started. Work began on the East Coast and is moving westward.