New Rumsey bridge slated for 2004 opening

October 15, 2003|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - About 12 percent of the work needed to build a new bridge over the Potomac River has been completed, a highway engineer said Tuesday.

The two-year task of replacing the James Rumsey bridge started in July.

The projected date for having the new bridge open to traffic is Nov. 1, 2004, said Bill Shanklin, the area engineer for the West Virginia Department Division of Highways.

The completion date for having both the new bridge open and the old bridge torn down is July 29, 2005, he said.


The project fell two or three weeks behind schedule because of a delay getting a permit in Maryland and because of periods of high water in the Potomac River, Shanklin said.

The project is expected to cost about $15.6 million, with funding coming from West Virginia, Maryland and the federal government.

The James Rumsey bridge connects W.Va. 480 and Md. 34. State officials have said the current bridge, which is more than 60 years old, is deteriorating and needs to be torn down.

The first step in the replacement project, Shanklin said, was building a new parking lot and access point to the C&O Canal towpath because the project took over the current parking lot.

The new parking lot is not far from the old one. People who go along the access road will bear left and go about a quarter-mile downstream to get to the new towpath entrance.

Shanklin said work is under way to building a causeway in the river for the base of the new bridge.

He said footings for concrete piers - including one next to the Bavarian Inn on the West Virginia side - now are being built, as are several retaining walls.

About 19,000 cubic yards of rock and soil will have been brought in by the time the work is through, Shanklin said.

The current bridge sometimes is closed to other traffic as trucks haul materials back and forth. Shanklin said the closures are done because the contractor has permission to exceed the bridge's 20-ton weight limit, not because the bridge is fragile.

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