Carrico Bridge to close in August

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

FRIES — Motorists from parts of Fries will have to take the long way to Galax again in August, as repairs will close the Carrico Bridge on Virginia 94 for about two weeks next month.

Matthew Cox of the Virginia Department of Transportation notified the Grayson County Board of Supervisors that maintenance on the 82-year-old, truss-type structure would begin sometime in mid-August and last approximately two weeks.

The bridge — which crosses the New River on 94 in Grayson County — is scheduled to be replaced beginning in 2010, and Cox said plans for the new bridge are still on schedule to be built next year.

VDOT attempted to give away the aging bridge near Fries — and even offered to pay someone to take it and move it to another location. VDOT offered a one-time incentive to take the bridge, not to exceed the cost of demolition, which the Federal Highway Administration set at $267,000. No offers were received last fall, leaving VDOT with only one option — demolition.

The bridge is recommended for the National Register of Historic Places and was built in 1927. It spans 912.8 feet in length and 27.4 feet in width.

The new structure will be shifted downstream about 300 feet — allowing two curves on the existing roadway to be taken out. Instead of a large truss bridge with all framework overhead, it will be flat and supported by six piers. It will look similar to the new bridge built over Virginia 100 in Carroll County, but without the curve.

According to VDOT, the average daily volume of traffic on Virginia 94 was 2,370 vehicles in 1999. VDOT expects that volume to increase to 3,200 vehicles per day by 2025.

Total cost for the new bridge is $10.2 million. The project will be sent to bid in mid-2010, with construction beginning shortly thereafter. Construction should be completed within 12 months.

The bridge was closed down in August 2007 for a few weeks after an inspection showed a critical load-bearing beam had major deterioration.