An Open Invitation From the Residents of the Northern Neck to the 2017 Candidates for Governor of Virginia:
Send an open invitation to the Candidates.
Write them, share this on twitter or instagram.
A file of the invitation is included below for you to use....
Write to them today, and invite them to come to the Northern Neck to experience the Robert O. Norris Bridge Firsthand....
Send the candidates an Invitation to come drive the Robert O. Norris Bridge:
[click name for email link]
So I have become a Bridge Nerd.
I did not set out to be a Bridge Nerd.
However, there is something in me that digs deeper when
I am given a $2.00 answer to a $100.00 question.
I dig in further when I am given a $2.00 answer to a $1,000,000.00 question.
I have been aware of several guidlines for Bridge Replacement issued by both
VDOT and the US Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration.
The Robert O. Norris Bridge clearly falls within these guidelines for Replacement,
and has since +/- 1990.
Efforts to have this fact acknowledged by VDOT have been unproductive.
In seeking substantive information from VDOT, mostly I am
That is fine.
I grew up with colloquial wisdom from very many sources.
One of these I can apply here is from Uncle Remus:
Meaning 'Don't act surprised when you get bit; what did you expect?'
In dealing with VDOT I have come to know what to expect.
Because of the limited results from inquiry with VDOT, I expanded my search to other available resources.
Knowing that the 'smart people' at the Federal Highway Administration [FHWA] are the Policymakers behind transportation legislation I began to look through information available on their website.
I poked around until I had a broad grasp of the trickle down funding stream from
the federal government to the states to the individual projects.
In Virginia we have VTrans2040.
Before the current policy, it was called VTrans2035, and before that VTrans2030...
Essentially a five-year policy with updated goals and objectives.
The federal 'Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act', MAP-21, is a funding and authorization bill to govern United States federal surface transportation spending.
It was signed by President Barack Obama on July 6, 2012.
Before MAP-21 there was TEA-21, Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century.
This was a federal transportation bill enacted June 9, 1998.
TEA-21 authorized federal surface transportation programs for the 6-year period 1998-2003.
Federal transportation funding policy has been evolving, but the modern "goals and objectives" represented today in VTrans2040 have their direct origins in TEA-21:
Note the highlighted words and phrases above.
These are the words behind federal and state funding "prioritization" that is specifically focused on metropolitan areas.
It is also why VDOT has chosen to 'patch and repair' or "put lipstick on a pig" [to quote many on the Northern Neck] rather than replace the antiquated Robert O. Norris Bridge.
This does not excuse VDOT.
I still need to believe that somewhere in the FHWA policy there must be some relief for
rural areas in need of transportation funding.
Too many lawmakers represent rural areas to be fully excluded
from transportation legislation.
On March 15, I wrote to:
My letter began:
I provided details:
I concluded my inquiry letter:
The reply from the Senior Bridge Programs Engineer, Federal Highway Administration:
The email correspondence has been forwarded to:
Mr. Donohue, Mr. Davis and Mr. Jones in Congressman Wittman's office
were kind enough to respond and thank me for the information.
Mr. Jones, on behalf of Congressman Wittman is submitting the request I made
to the FHWA to his contacts at the Department of Transportation
to get a more definite response from that Authority.
Once we receive confirmation of funding eligibility, what is to be done with it?
At the very least [the-very-least] our repesentatives and local leadership will not be able to put us off like children with their stock response: "We will see."
The R.O. Norris Bridge Replacement is eligible for funding. Now go get it.
All we ask of our leadership is:
The Northern Neck has been trying to get the Robert O. Norris Bridge
replaced since..... when-- 1989?
That is just 28 years, I think we can wait a little longer especially
if we know we are coming to resolve on the matter.
In November 2017 Virginia will Elect a new governor.
Terry McAuliffe [D], our incumbent governor is ineligible for re-election in 2017.
Also significant is the new governor's choice for new secretary of transportation.
Aubrey Layne is our current secretary of transportation:
Not surprisingly, the Hampton Roads area has benefitted significantly from Aubrey Layne's tenure as the secretary of transportation. The secretary of transportation by the way, serves as the chairman of the Commonwealth Transportation Board [CTB]; the CTB prioritizes funding of Transportation projects for the Commonwealth.
Ballotpedia is a Great resource for information for federal and state elections.
It is the Encyclopedia of American Politics.
Let the candidates hear from the Northern Neck about
The 31 year old Norris Bridge is "Structurally Deficient"
Waiting to hear the $30 million Bridge plan
$30 million Rehabilitation is Complete
We found another reason to push for Bridge Replacement; "Inadequate Design."
The I-35 bridge:
• was built in 1967.
• was one of the last Truss Deck bridges built.
• was only 40 years old when it collapsed.
Other collapsed Truss Deck Bridges:
Upon learning of the I-35 bridge Collapse
One aspect of a Truss Deck design is these bridges are Fracture Critical by nature:
Another $30 Million in Repairs are complete:
$12.8 million & 18 months to complete painting of Bridge
$25 million plan to Rehabilitate the wearing surface; another project.
1998: $30 million in repairs or maintenance
2012: $30 million in repairs or maintenance
2016: $12.8 million in repairs or maintenance
2020: $25 million in repairs or maintenance
Total: $97.8 million in the last 25 years
This does not include money spent on:
This does not include the contracts for Inspections which take a month every year, as required by the Federal Highway Administration [FHWA] since 1968 as a result of the Silver Bridge collapse in Point Pleasant, WV. [note: same design as the Norris Bridge]
We do not really know how much money has been spent to maintain the Norris bridge at a condition just above "structurally deficient" for the last 25 years.
The FHWA mandates "cost effective" maintenance. How do we determine this without total dollars spent and total dollars lost due to impacts?
No matter how much money we throw at the Norris Bridge it ill still be Functionally obsolete, 60+ year old bridge that was not designed to carry the volume or nature of traffic it does today.
Add your Voice~How do we get VDOT to Listen?
The Norris Bridge Painting Project has begun in Full this month.
Sitting on the Bridge waiting for the signal to change really hit home on several points:
How many other times in the last 25 years has the Norris Bridge provided "Limited Service" due to being a construction site ?
Limited Service on the Norris Bridge due to:
The chart above is a summary of VDOT related activity on the Norris Bridge.
This accounting does not include days for wind/weather related closures [N'or Easter or hurricane] and does not include days when VDOT work was not performed due to holidays and reasonable allowances for seasonal weather delays.
The information above is drawn from VDOT and newspaper archives.
This chart is a conservative representation of the instances gathered; it is by no means complete.
I am sure there was work done 1997-2006 too, but I did not show anything for these years because I could find no data.
FREEDOM of INFORMATION ACT [FOIA]
I would send a FOIA request for information to VDOT asking to receive an itemization of # days traffic on the Norris Bridge was affected by VDOT activities but I am still waiting on clarifications to the conflicting summary of costs for bridge construction & maintenance activities for the Norris Bridge since 1985. I sent a FOIA in September and received conflicting reports from VDOT in January and again in March.
To review Thumbnails above click link---> "In the News"
In the May 2016 Route 3 Transit Study VDOT describes the
Level of Service on the Norris Bridge as "Unstable" based on a census done 2012:
E: unstable flow, operating at capacity. Flow becomes irregular and speed varies rapidly because there are virtually no usable gaps to maneuver in the traffic and speeds rarely reach the posted limit. Any disruption to traffic flow will create a shock wave affecting traffic upstream. Any incident will create serious delays. Drivers level of comfort becomes poor.
This rating is based upon the typical daily flow of traffic and does not account for "construction or maintenance" impact on traffic. The "Unstable" rating is actually worse in light of the proportion of time the bridge has limited service while being "maintained."
According to the Highway Capacity Manual (HCM) with A being the best and F being the worst, similar to academic grading the Norris bridge is reflective of:
F: forced or breakdown flow. Every vehicle moves in lockstep with the vehicle in front of it, with frequent slowing required. Travel time cannot be predicted, with generally more demand than capacity. A road in a constant traffic jam is at this LOS, because LOS is an average or typical service rather than a constant state. For example, a highway might be at LOS D for the AM peak hour, but have traffic consistent with LOS C some days, LOS E or F others, and come to a halt once every few weeks.
How does the "Unstable", Functionally Obsolete, 60 year old Robert O. Norris Bridge serve as a tool for Economic Development on the Northern Neck ?
How does the "Unstable", Functionally Obsolete, 60 year old Robert O. Norris Bridge serve as a tool for Tourism on the Northern Neck ?