News and Updates
- It's been three years since Waterloo Bridge was closed on January 15th, 2014. The Counties and VDOT need to act before it’s too late. VDOT has said that rehabilitation, with increased load capacity, is possible. They have determined rehabilitation would cost $4.5 million, which is $2 million cheaper than replacing the bridge outright (which is what is planned currently). There is a private donor generously offering $1 million towards rehabilitation. The question now is what are we waiting for?
Please Take Action to Save Waterloo Bridge by sending a letter to local, state and federal representatives, along with VDOT! Read below for background info >>
- We were optimistic in January 2015, when VDOT stated that rehabilitation was an achievable goal. However, since then no working group has been established, no funding plan has been developed, and no commitments have been made. As we wait the bridge falls further into disrepair.
- In February 2015, VDOT agreed that rehabilitation was a viable option and presented their own cost estimate. Their cost estimate for rehabilitation was $4.1 million, much higher than the $1.8 million estimate produced by PEC, Fauquier County, and Culpeper County's consultant Schiffer Group Inc. On March 26, 2015 both Counties, PEC, and VDOT met to discuss the difference in cost. All parties agreed that the difference in the estimates for actual construction cost ($1.1 mill and $1.6 mill) was negligible at this preliminary stage. The 'soft costs' were the main point of discussion: - Schiffer Group: estimating $800,000 for engineering, right of way, misc. construction cost, and construction contingencies while - VDOT's consultant (Volkert) - estimated $2.5 mill for those costs. This discussion will likely continue because even as a revenue share project with 50% covered by VDOT, 25% covered by Culpeper, and 25% covered by Fauquier, $4.1 mill would be difficult for the localities to afford.
- Good news! On the heels of a PEC action alert that called for VDOT to respond to the option of rehabilitating the Waterloo Bridge... VDOT responded! The following text went up on their website: "Thank you to all who have contacted VDOT recently about the Waterloo bridge; your requests for restoring the existing bridge have not gone unheard. Following a look at the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) study of rehabilitation options, VDOT undertook its own in-depth analysis of the bridge in late 2014. The results of that analysis, coupled with local support, lead us to agree that preserving the historic character of the bridge is an achievable goal. VDOT met with officials from Culpeper and Fauquier counties on Jan. 22, and it was decided that a working group will be established to identify potential rehabilitation alternatives as well as address the issue of funding. The PEC will be invited to participate."
- PEC has submitted comments to the Board of Supervisors asking that the Waterloo Bridge be added to the Six Year Plan for Secondary Roads.
Photo by Ray Root.
The Waterloo Bridge is a valuable piece of the history of Culpeper and Fauquier Counties that was closed to traffic by the Virginia Department of Transportation due to safety concerns in early 2014.
Known for its distinctive iron and steel Pratt through-truss, the bridge spans the Rappahannock River and links Waterloo and Old Bridge roads in Culpeper to Jeffersonton Road in Fauquier. The bridge’s history is deeply entwined with its setting -- beginning as a link to a bustling canal town with stores, residences, and a mill before becoming a pivotal river crossing during the Civil War -- and demonstrates the region’s connections to advances in transportation and economic and industrial development. Built in 1878, it was the oldest metal truss bridge still in service in Virginia, before it closed.
Truss bridges, once a popular bridge type during the late 19th through the early 20th century, are now rare. They are one of the earliest modern bridge types and demonstrate remarkable efficiency and diversity. They are a symbol of American ingenuity at it’s best. Since VDOT’s first survey of these remaining structures in 1975, we’ve lost 90% of them and another 24 are slated for replacement within the next 5 years.
Until it was closed the Waterloo Bridge carried approximately 840 vehicles per day. VDOT and the Fauquier and Culpeper Board of Supervisors are now considering its fate by looking into VDOT’s proposed options: A) demolition B) demolition and replacement C) removal to another site D) temporary rehabilitation E) rehabilitation for a pedestrian bridge.
Waterloo Bridge should be fully rehabilitated for continued vehicle traffic:
- Removing the bridge to some other site would take it out of its historical context; both the bridge and the area are historically significant and they are inseparable from each other.
- Replacing it with a new bridge destroys the historical nature of the resource and could potentially cost more than rehabilitating the bridge.
- The option of rehabilitation for pedestrian and bicycle traffic is impractical given the bridge’s remote location, lack of parking, and its disconnection from established bicycle routes. There are still significant costs associated with this option.
We encourage you to both sign our petition and write your local, state and federal election officials asking them to: Take Action to Save Waterloo Bridge. Let them know you are concerned about the bridge’s future and encourage them to ask VDOT for what exactly it will cost to rehabilitate our cultural resource, not demolish it or build a modern structure.