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W.C. English, VDOT Put Tired Route 29 Bridge to Rest

Wed July 26, 2000 - Southeast Edition
Angela B. Hurni

Work continues on a $4.9-million contract for a bridge replacement on Route 29 in Albemarle County, VA. The Virginia Department of Transportation awarded a contract to W.C. English Inc., Lynchburg, VA, for construction of the bridge, which is located at the South Fork of the Rivanna River.

The project, under construction since March 1999, involves widening the bridge from two lanes to four lanes in each direction. The additional two lanes have already been added to the 15-year-old southbound bridge. All traffic will be routed onto the southbound bridge while the northbound bridge, constructed in 1955, is demolished and a new bridge is built. A section of Route 29 from the bridge to Hydraulic Road also will be widened to four lanes as part of the contract.

According to Jim Jennings, spokesperson for VDOT, the contract is part of a planned program to widen Route 29 from Charlottesville to Albemarle County. Regarding the need for the demolition of the northbound bridge and construction of a new bridge, Jennings said, “It was past its useful life.”

W. C. English subcontracted Portadam Inc., Williamstown, NJ, to build a portable cofferdam, which was necessary for the construction of this bridge. The cofferdam enabled the contractor to pour the footings for the new bridge by creating a barrier and holding back the water.

According to, Portadam uses a unique free-standing tubular steel support system and a flexible waterproof fabric membrane. These two main components allow many types of in-water construction to be accomplished in a dry environment without the need for excavation or fill, costly pile driving equipment, or time consuming sandbag dikes.

Baxter Gordon, project manager for W. C. English, said the company has used portable cofferdams in the past. “They work well as long as there is a hard bottom and relatively shallow water,” said Gordon.

The estimated completion date for the bridge replacement is June 2001.

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