Advance Mill Bridge, Replacement Bridge Proposal




1) Review of prior Board of Supervisors action regarding bridge; and 2) identification of possible funding for temporary bridge.




Tucker, Foley, Davis, Graham, Cilimberg, Benish







July 11, 2007


ACTION:     X          INFORMATION:   



  ACTION:              INFORMATION:   











Representatives from VDOT advised the Board of Supervisors at its June 6, 2007 meeting that the Advance Mill Bridge (Rt. 743) will need to be permanently closed due to its state of disrepair.  The bridge has been closed for over a month because of damage found in several of its steel supports.  VDOT also advised the Board that, in the short term, a temporary bridge could be constructed on the location of the existing bridge as an alternative to the longer term closure of the road/bridge until the permanent bridge could be constructed.   In order to minimize cost and construction time, the temporary bridge would need to be installed on the existing bridge piers, requiring the removal of the existing bridge structure, and would require a financial commitment in the range of $400,000 from the County.  The Board generally indicated its support of VDOT proceeding forward with the next steps of obtaining approval for the installation of a temporary bridge.  However, no formal action was taken by the Board in this regard. 



GOAL 3:  Develop Policies and Infrastructure Improvements to address the County’s Growing Needs.



Prior Board Action Regarding the Preservation of the Bridge:

The last “official” action taken by a Board of Supervisors regarding the maintenance of the Advance Mill Bridge was on July 7, 1999 (see Attachments 1 and 2).  The Board adopted the following statement regarding the bridge:


1)       The Advance Mills Bridge should be maintained so that it retains its historic significance;

2)       The Advance Mills Historic District should be nominated for listing in the National Register of Historic Places;

3)       If it is determined that a new bridge is required due to maintenance and safety requirements, the Advance Mills Bridge should be closed to vehicular traffic, maintaining it for pedestrian traffic.  Thoroughly study alternative alignments that will not compromise the historic or architectural integrity of the Advance Mills Historic District; and,

4)       If, for any reason, it is not possible to pursue nomination of the historic district, nomination of the historic bridge as an individual resource should proceed.


Regarding items 2) and 4) above, the Advance Mills Historic District was listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places in 2000.  The bridge is a contributing structure to this Historic District. The following is an excerpt from a summary description of the Historic District from the Department of Historic Resources (DHR):


“…Advance Mills is a small community composed of four houses, a general store, a mill site, a dam and a metal truss bridge. There are a total of 30 buildings and structures in the village, with 23 of them contributing to the significance of the district. Most of the buildings resulted from a construction boom time that occurred about 1900, although several of the resources pre-date this period by several decades. Until their destruction by fire in the 1940s, the most prominent structures in the district were the Mill and the Advance Mills Supply store; these resources are contributing sites in the district. Contributing structures include the bridge, the dam and the millrace. Today the district has a much more rural residential character with the principle structures being the Gaines Fray (11) and J. M. Fray houses.”


Most of the contributing resources noted in the summary are still present; however, the general store was recently demolished.


The proposed installation of a temporary bridge in place of the existing bridge structure would be inconsistent with items 1) and 3) above.  Various alignment alternatives will be evaluated as part of the location and design process for the permanent replacement bridge.  To date, no assessment has been made regarding the feasibility of the County maintaining the existing bridge structure for pedestrian and historic purposes as recommended in item 3) above.


As the temporary bridge project moves through the environmental review process, County staff will be given an opportunity to comment on the proposed project.  The latest “official” action regarding the Advance Mills Bridge is the Board’s action from 1999.  In order for staff to accurately represent the Board’s position in the environmental review process, an action clarifying the Board’s position on the temporary bridge project and the maintenance of the existing bridge is desired. 


Factors Related to the Existing Conditions and the Temporary Bridge Proposal:

VDOT staff is continuing to work on the design, scope and review process for the temporary bridge project.  Staff has provided the following facts and information about the conditions in the area resulting from the bridge closure and other pertinent information regarding the temporary bridge project that we know of at this time:

-          …Protect the Rural Areas historic, archeological and cultural resources.

-          Protect and enhance rural quality of life for present and future Rural Area residents.

-          Provide levels of service delivery in accord with the Facilities Planning goals of the Land Use Plan.


The Rural Area Transportation Goals states:

-          Provide safe and effective transportation options while preserving the character of the Rural Areas.



VDOT has estimated that the temporary bridge proposal requires the expenditure of approximately $700,000 for an improvement with a life expectancy of 2 to 4 years, and these costs will not benefit the ultimate permanent bridge replacement project.  VDOT has requested that the County share in funding the temporary bridge alternative.  The total project cost is based on an estimate of $300,000 for the purchase of the temporary bridge and $400,000 for removal of the existing bridge and installation of the temporary bridge. VDOT has suggested that the County fund the $400,000 bridge removal and installation costs.  Should the Board agree to participate in funding the project, one source for the County share of funding would be the CIP Transportation Fund.  This fund was established and intended to be used for high priority/strategic projects focused on the Development Areas, including Master Plan implementation priorities, and/or regional transportation priorities.  Should the Board decide to proceed with the temporary bridge, staff will need direction regarding the source of funds.




Given a temporary bridge will only serve for 2-3 years, staff recommends deferring construction until a permanent structure that allows the existing bridge to remain and can fully support emergency services is constructed. The following were considered key factors in staff’s analysis:

·         The existing Historic District and County policy statements related to protection of this bridge indicate the existing bridge should be preserved if at all possible. 

·         It appears the temporary bridge would not support essential fire apparatus coming from the Earlysville Volunteer Fire Station or the Hollymead Fire Rescue Station.  Ambulance service, provided from the Hollymead station, can reach points north of the bridge as quickly by using U.S. 29 to Frays Mill Road. Thus, staff found the temporary bridge did not appreciably improve Fire/Rescue services. 

·         There are reasonable alternatives to this bridge available. It was noted this would require about 5 additional minutes of travel, including travel over an unpaved road and low water crossing.  Staff did not consider those conditions inconsistent with Rural Area policies. 

·         The new bridge would be a temporary solution and it appears none of those costs could be recovered with the new permanent bridge.      


Should the Board decide to support VDOT proceeding with the next steps of obtaining approval for the installation of a temporary bridge, staff requests an action clarifying the Board’s position on the temporary bridge project and the maintenance of the existing bridge with a statement similar to the following:


While it is recognized that the Advance Mills Bridge has historic significance and is a contributing structure to the Advance Mills Historic District, it has been determined that the deteriorating condition of the bridge structure requires its permanent closure which, unless replaced, will be detrimental to public safety and convenience. It has also been determined that a temporary bridge could be constructed on the location of the existing bridge as an alternative to the longer term closure of the road/bridge until a new permanent bridge could be constructed.  In consideration of these circumstances, the Board supports the establishment of a temporary bridge, including the removal of the existing bridge structure if necessary with appropriate documentation of its historic significance.


Should the Board be inclined to participate in the cost of this project as requested by VDOT, staff will bring back information as to the potential sources from which funds will be provided and any impacts that may result on other project funding.



1 -- Minutes of the July 7, 1999 Board Meeting

2 -- Executive Summaries July 7, 1999

3 – Minutes of the April 7, 1999 Board Meeting

4 – Executive Summary April 7, 1999 Board Meeting

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