On Nov. 2, the Virginia Department of Transportation closed the bridge crossing Tides Mill Stream on Rte. 205 in Colonial Beach for a project expected to last until March 2013.
Before the closure, the bridge carried an average of 4,800 vehicles a day, according to a VDOT study.
Traffic is now re-directed to Rte. 631, or Longfield Road, a change that adds seven miles to a trip in or out of Colonial Beach, forces residents and commuters to plan accordingly and impacts local businesses.
Depending on which end of the detour they are, the news is not all bad for local businesses.
”I have been seeing a few new faces,” says Karen Peyton, owner of Rydell’s, an antiques and collectibles business at 2605 Stoney Knoll. Rydell’s sits at the Oak Grove end of the detour.
Peyton says drivers seem to be handling the new traffic pattern surprisingly well.
“The only thing I’ve noticed is a few brakes being put on. People probably aren’t sure where the turn is. In the morning and later in the evening, there is more congestion,” she said.
At the other end of the detour, businesses including Wilkerson’s and Shady Lane Seafood have been impacted differently.
Colonial Beach resident Dan Ross says that he and his family regularly go to Shady Lane to buy crabs and bait.
“We know that to come down here, we have to come down and circle back around to get back to Colonial Beach,” Ross says. “We know what we have to do and try to plan it in.”
“We’re happy that they’re doing something because it was getting bad up there. They had some big loss in the storm.”
Ross gestures to Shady Lane and says, “I just hope these guys hang on.”
Project Manager Jason Williams says the project would demand a “longer schedule” if VDOT weren’t able to establish the detour.
“What we call this project is a major rehabilitation with a superstructure replacement and minor concrete repair on substructure,” he explains.
“A superstructure is basically the beams or the assortment of beams that carry the load of the deck from the beams to the top of the road. The substructure is the foundation, whether it be walls or what we call ‘piles,’ which support that superstucture.”
The project, which was delayed one day due to Hurricane Sandy, is on schedule. The detour is expected to be lifted in late February with the project complete the following month.
“From a construction standpoint, that is actually a fairly aggressive schedule,” Williams said. “We’re able to execute that schedule with the allowance of the detour.”
VDOT typically identifies Longfield Road as a secondary road, but during the length of the detour, it will be treated as a primary road and receive priority snow clearance and safety measures.
Residents with concerns or questions are encouraged to call the VDOT customer service center at 1-800-FOR-ROAD.