Workers await bridge's fate

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Work has stopped at a Grayson County bridge until a hearing addresses a local family's objection to moving power lines.

By Landmark News Service

The Virginia Department of Transportation will soon know the fate of a permit to enable Appalachian Power Co. to relocate electrical lines to make way for a new bridge over the New River between Galax and Fries.
The new structure will replace the aging Carico Memorial Bridge on Virginia 94.

Michelle Earl, public relations spokesman for VDOT, said that, since the bridge will cross the New River, an environmental permit would be required before APCo can move the power lines.
Earl said the Dixon family that owns property across the river, where the power lines are located, had filed an objection that would require a hearing to resolve.
The hearing was scheduled before the Virginia Marine Resource Commission yesterday, Tuesday, in Newport News.
According to the commission’s agenda, Appalachian Power Co. is requesting permission to cross approximately 513 linear feet of state-owned submerged land with a new 12 kilovolt aerial distribution line.
VDOT actually owns the property where utility poles are now located.
When the newspaper contacted a family member, Susie Dixon Garner of Galax, about the matter last week, she had no comment.
The Dixon family is represented by a Roanoke law firm, Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore.
Dawson Bridge Co. of Lexington, Ky., the bridge contractor, has shifted its equipment to the Fries side of the river and will continue construction of the temporary bridge, which is about half completed.
A company spokesman said Dawson couldn’t continue to construct the bridge from the Galax side of the river because the power lines are in the way of their equipment.
Dawson received a $9.3 million contract to replace the old metal-truss bridge that has been closed since March 11.
The bridge was closed after a VDOT inspector noticed damage to the crossbeams, apparently the result of a too-tall vehicle driving across it. VDOT estimated it would cost $2.2 million to repair the old bridge.
Instead, it will be torn down after the new bridge is opened.
Since the bridge is no longer safe to cross, it was closed to traffic and motorists must use Virginia routes 94 and 274.
Local traffic from Fries to Galax can utilize Virginia routes 606 and 721 across the low-water bridge to Glendale Road.
The Carico bridge was constructed in 1927 and carried an estimated 1,900 vehicles per day when it was closed.