Bridge Inspections Aren't For The Birds
Aug. 27, 2014: You can’t drive to work, the grocery store or your child’s soccer game without crossing a bridge or culvert – probably lots of them.
The Staunton District is responsible for approximately 3,500 of these structures, more than any other district. “Bridges are a key part of our mission and they’re probably the only federally mandated program we have,” says Barton Boyd, assistant district bridge engineer for inspections.
Five two-person teams visit structures that range from cramped culverts to multi-pier spans. Collectively the teams inspect approximately 2,000 bridges and culverts a year. Inspectors spend as much as half their time in the field, scrutinizing each structure for signs of weakness and comparing its condition to previous inspections.
The inspectors gear up for days that could include anything from wading in streams to latching on to a bucket truck. As they say, field work does have its challenges.
Sally Raynes is a team leader who’s been inspecting bridges for nearly 15 years. “This would be the perfect job,” she said with a laugh, “if it wasn’t for extreme weather, the snakes, the poison ivy, the ticks, and the big spiders.”
You can add hostile birds to the list. Team members Mark Craun and Matt Sprouse recently inspected a bridge that was home to several families of barn swallows. “We get attacked all the time,” says Craun. “Birds, snakes, bees – all sorts of critters.”
At right: Jason McCurdy (left) and Laddy Hostetter (right) of the Lexington bridge team inspect a Route 628 bridge in Rockbridge County.
Fredericksburg District Delivers Project
July 23, 2014: Work is complete on a two-year, $10.9 million bridge rehabilitation project at the John Andrew Twigg Bridge over the Piankatank River between Mathews and Middlesex counties in VDOT's Fredericksburg District.
Area resident Robert W. Klink, M.D., sent the following email to District Administrator Marcie Parker on the occasion of the bridge re-opening:
“Ms. Parker, I have crossed the Piankatank River Bridge twice daily, seven days a week for the last 23 months while the bridge was being refurbished. Hardly a day went by without a crew there doing their jobs. They persevered in all types of weather: snow, sleet, rain, high winds, very cold temperatures, warm-hot-muggy summer days. Very few days were missed due to the elements. Many a holiday I saw crews working as well.
"When possible they came early and left late. They poured concrete in the middle of the night. Your department endured a number of mal-intended pranks including moving barriers at night and filling the orange reflectors full of bullet holes. I want to congratulate the department and all the staff that made the project successful. JOB WELL DONE!”
Parker shared the email with the construction team. “This is a testament of our customer focus by having our customers see we are working as diligently as possible to minimize the disruption to the traveling public,” she wrote. “Great job to all involved.”
VDOT To The Rescue
June 16, 2014: A group of VDOT workers took on the role of first responders when they came upon a serious accident in the Staunton District in May.
Dwaine Ware of the Central Office maintenance division was driving along Route 42 in Augusta County when he came upon a car that had flipped on its side and came to rest against a fence. Then he spotted another VDOT vehicle driven by Jack Borden of the Staunton District equipment shop.
Two emergency medical technicians arrived and needed help to reach the crash victim. Ware used the crane on his truck to stabilize the car so the unconscious driver could be reached. Borden called the nearby Swoope area headquarters which sent Greg Varner and Ron Simmons to provide traffic control.
The victim suffered serious injuries and was flown to the UVA Medical Center, but has since recovered.