Before VDOT can begin the studies to determine how best to proceed~ Superstructure Replacement or New Bridge~ the Norris Bridge project must be funded.
Replacement at $400 million makes most sense because:
Any rating less than [5/9] is categorically "Structurally Deficient."
With an all time high sufficiency rating of 45.9, the Bridge has been a Federal Highway Administration specified "Candidate for Replacement" since 1991 [when the sufficiency rating was 9/100 for three years running].
Route 3 is Significant to the Economy of the Northern Neck.
This is made plain in the VDOT Study finalized May 2016
“Route 3 Northern Neck Corridor Improvements Study”
"An efficient Route 3 will be Instrumental in determining the future of the Northern Neck...."
'Torture’ various economic data numbers any which way but the economy on the Northern Neck is 'tanking' as demonstrated by the simple economic benchmark of commercial truck volume:
"While overall vehicular volumes have been generally stale little or no growth,
the most recent truck volumes tell a story of
a major dip in commerce, economic well-being and employment. "
Most of Route 3 has a fairly high efficiency or "Level of Service" except at the
Robert O. Norris Bridge:
"Transportation Remains an obstacle to
Dilemma of Taxation and Economic Development:
A significant number of residents on the Northern Neck pay little or No State Tax
Lancaster County is the 5th oldest County in America
The average taxpayer on the Northern Neck might look like this:
Population 65 and Older:
[no one is suggesting we tax retirees; this is a simple reality check]
Population under 18:
On the Northern Neck the population under 18 is 22%.
25% 65 or older + 22% 18 or younger = 47% of the population on the Northern Neck
This means 47% of the population pays almost ZERO State taxes without even taking into considering those on assistance programs who generally are not subject to taxation.
The net effect of this is worse in Lancaster and Northumberland County, a little better in Westmoreland and Richmond County.
A GOOD "SECOND JOB" FOR THE NORTHERN NECK: TOURISM
Tourism is great as a 'second job' but in no way can it provide the economic output or Tax revenue necessary to support Economic or Community Development.
In 2013-2014 the five counties [including King George] of the Northern Neck generated:
For the Leadership of a community the largest ROI for Community Development is in increasing:
This will not happen without a major investments in infrastructure in the region.
Conversations for investment in the region go nowhere until there are compelling changes to introduce into the conversation with investors and stakeholders on the Northern Neck.
A Modernized or Replaced Robert O. Norris Bridge:
On April 12, 2016 Delegate Ransone, Hodges and Senator McDougal sent a formal request to Aubrey Layne the Secretary of Transportation requesting:
"Replace the Antiquated Robert O. Norris Bridge."
The Northern Neck Planning Commission District began the Smart Scale Funding application in June of 2016 to Modernize the Robert Norris Bridge, supported by Formal Resolutions from Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond, and Westmoreland Counties.
The application was submitted September 30, 2016.
I have been aware of the 'REPLACE the Robert Norris Bridge' Petition that was circulated starting in late April 2016. I was one of the 2,662 who signed it.
There was page after page of comments included with the petition intended for Governor Terry McAuliffe. In late July the petition was sent to the Governor's office, and copied to Senator McDougal, Delegate Hodges, and Delegate Ransone.
A Petition submitted to the Governor's office is not part of the Smart Scale process.
Because the Petition was not submitted as part of the defined Smart Scale Process then it is likely it will be will be disregarded, like a seed cast upon unfertile rocky soil.
That the Petition garnered 2,662 signatures is significant. This effort should be recognized by VDOT as part of the Public Commentary. The next best thing to getting 2,662 petition signers to send email to VDOT would be to send the Petiton to VDOT.
So I sent it to VDOT as defined by the Smart Scale Funding Process.
As directed by the Smart Scale process I have written to the VDOT email address indicated in the name of 2,662 signers of the Petition in support of the Norris Bridge Funding application. [ Six-YearProgram@VDOT.Virginia.gov ].
If VDOT needs to know that the Norris Bridge Modernization is important to our region then by all means I will write. I play by the rules; their funding process, their rules.
It is not the same as 2,662 emails but the intent is the same.
Those petition signers are all interested in the same thing:
"Do Something" about the Robert O. Norris Bridge.
The Norris Bridge is an Impediment to Economic Development well on the way to being Structurally Deficient
According to VDOT's 'State of the Structures and Bridges Report Fiscal Year 2015' in recent years the percentage of Structurally Deficient bridges has steadily decreased, reflecting an apparent improvement in conditions of bridges.
However, while the number of bridges in “Poor" condition has indeed decreased,
the overall condition of bridge inventory has not improved.
WHY is this?
In recent years, available funding in the Construction Program has often led to the selection of smaller bridges for replacement. While this has resulted in a reduction in the number of bridges in “Poor" condition the net result is we are developing a significant backlog of larger bridges which need more extensive rehabilitations.
This is due to:
The Commonwealth’s inventory includes 4,994 bridges at risk of becoming rated as 'Structurally Deficient.' **1
These bridges have at least one major component
with a General Condition Rating [GCR] of 5. Once any single major component receives a [GCR] of 4 or less the Bridge will be rated as 'Structurally Deficient.'
The Robert O. Norris Bridge has a [GCR] of 5 in all three components. **2
"Somewhat better than minimum adequacy to tolerate being left in place as is."
Deck geometry appraisal:
"Basically intolerable requiring high priority of replacement."
It is time for the Norris Bridge to be Modernized.
The Northern Neck Planning Commission District has submitted
a Funding Application to the Commonwealth Transportation Board to do so.
We are competing for funds and your support is needed, both by writing to VDOT and in continuing to urge our local Representatives to be actively vocal in support of the Norris Bridge modernization Project.
Ransone, Hodges, and McDougal wrote to Secretary of Transportation Layne in
April 2016 requesting "Replacement of the Antiquated Norris Bridge" but have had little public engagement on the matter since that singular effort.
Let them know their engagement in the process is essential.
The Norris Bridge Modernization is significant to the Economic Future of the Northern Neck and we need our leadership ACTIVELY ENGAGED and interested in this effort.
With the exception of the endorsement by Congressman Wittman at the Fall Transportation meeting with Secretary of Transportation Layne on November 1st, 2016
our local leadership has been publicly silent on such a vital topic.
**1 The Federal Highway Administration [FHWA] says the term "structurally deficient" means the bridge must be monitored, inspected and maintained. According to the FHWA Web site, the fact that a bridge is "deficient" does not imply that it is likely to collapse or that it is unsafe.
**2 For Reference to the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis August 1, 2007: