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.