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.
News and Updates
In chronological order from newest to oldest.
- November 6, 2020: VDOT contractors install the rehabilitated Waterloo Bridge back on to its stone abutments!
- April 2020: Waterloo bridge has been removed for rehabilitation! Watch the video of the removal.
- January 2020: the $3.6 million contract for rehabilitating the bridge was awarded to Corman Kokosing Construction Co.
- 2018-2019: VDOT is moving forward on rehabilitation of Waterloo Bridge! The completion date for the project is slated for April 30, 2021.
- Nov 2017: After nearly four years working to save Waterloo Bridge, success is within arm’s reach! On November 9, 2017 the Fauquier Board of Supervisors will make a decision that will effectively determine the bridge’s fate.If the Fauquier Board APPROVES a resolution of support, then rehabilitation can move forward.
If the Fauquier Board DOES NOT APPROVE a resolution of support, everyone’s collective efforts to save this historic structure will likely have been wasted.
- September 2017: (from Facebook post) We are so close to saving this amazing historic structure! We just need support from our local Supervisors now. With Mr and Mrs. Hitt’s contribution of $1,000,000, VDOT has said that they can work the funding for the rehabilitation in 2018 IF Fauquier and Culpeper can put forward $250,000 each. We need support from our local Supervisors in both Fauquier and Culpeper. And we need to move quickly because all grants for VDOT’s 2 year cycle must be submitted by November 1st.
- May 2017: There is some good news related to the fight to save and reopen historic Waterloo Bridge! VDOT will solicit public comments about the bridge’s potential rehabilitation on Wednesday, May 17, 2017. The public hearing will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Warrenton Community Center. We hope to see you there! Waterloo Bridge Restoration Getting Another Look (FauquierNow, April 25, 2017) From VDOT’s website: VDOT invites residents and other interested parties to attend a public hearing on the Waterloo bridge restoration project on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Warrenton Community Center, 430 East Shirley Avenue, Warrenton. The public hearing is an opportunity to give VDOT comments and/or suggestions regarding the proposed project. Representatives from VDOT will be available to answer questions and take public comments.
Written comments may also be sent to Howard Tomlinson, Project Manager, VDOT Culpeper District, 1601 Orange Road, Culpeper, VA 22701, or Howard.Tomlinson@VDOT.Virginia.gov.
- January 2017: 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 >>*Update 6/20/17: While, VDOT initially recommended ‘Replacement’ of Waterloo Bridge in its 6-year plan. The more recent 6-year plan instead calls for ‘Rehabilitation’ of Waterloo Bridge. Scroll up for more info!
- January 2016: We were optimistic last year, when 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.
- 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.
- Winter 2015: 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.“
- April 2014: PEC 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.
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. Currently, VDOT has evaluated three options for the bridge moving forward:
- Replace with a modern structure. Estimated cost: $6.1 million
- Rehabilitate for vehicular traffic. Estimated cost: $4 million
- Rehabilitate for pedestrian traffic. Estimated cost: $3.7 million
We believe 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. Additionally, once made safe for pedestrian use, ownership of the bridge would have to be taken over by the Counties and maintenance costs would fall to them. It is our understanding that the Counties currently have no interest in this.
If you have questions about the bridge or the effort to rehabilitate and reopen it please reach out to PEC Land Use Representative Julie Bolthouse at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-347-2334 x. 7042.