The Norris Bridge will remain
part of the landscape
How we got here:
Much of the pathway to funding under HB2 was new.
Local representatives knew they wanted to get in on the funding but were not sure how to navigate to attain HB2 funding.
On April 12, 2016 Delegates Ransone, Hodges, and Senator McDougle wrote to the Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne formally asking for funding to "Replace the Antiquated Robert O. Norris Bridge."
Secretary Layne replied on April 27, 2016. In order to be considered for HB2 Funding program, now formally known as Smart Scale, they would need to process an application following the Smart Scale Process.
The Smart Scale Funding Application to Replace the Norris Bridge was submitted on 9/30/2016 as required by the Smart Scale process. This submittal was put forth as a result of formal resolutions by:
The actual funding application was a hybrid project for "rehabilitation" rather than replacement. VDOT steered the NNPDC to submit the project as a "Superstructure Replacement" rather than full replacement.
Although the successful candidate list was not due until February 2017, I came to understand the Norris Bridge application had been "screened out" by virtue of a Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] inquiry made to VDOT.
In my inquiry I copied Nick Donohue, Deputy Secretary of Transportation who reponded:
"Ms. Lovelady – I reviewed the email below and see that you are asking if the Norris Bridge project screened out of the SMART SCALE process. And if so, why."
"The SMART SCALE process was established to prioritize projects that enhance the capacity of the transportation network – through capacity expansion, new roads, expanded transit, intersection improvements, and other projects of this nature. The Norris Bridge is a replacement of an existing bridge without expansion of capacity and therefore is not eligible for consideration under SMART SCALE and was screened out. Similar projects like traffic light replacements and other bridge replacements without capacity expansion were also screened out."
"In 2015, the General Assembly modified the formula for transportation funds and established the following 3 core programs –
"The State of Good Repair Program is the more logical program for the Norris Bridge as the current plans are related to rehabilitation or replacement – should the facility become structurally deficient in the future."
"I understand the importance of this project to you and your community, and that this must be frustrating at times. Please know we are aware of your concerns. There are several large bridges like the Norris Bridge that likely will need to be replaced in the next 5-15 years and the Commonwealth is going to have to develop a strategy to address these facilities."
Deputy Secretary of Transportation
Commonwealth of Virginia
I forwarded this letter to Aubrey Layne Secretary of Transportation, Nick Donohue Deputy Secretary of Transportation, Delegates Ransone, Hodges, Senator McDougle, and all the various localities who had supported the original funding application.
The availability of replacement funding for the Norris bridge from the U.S. Department of Transportation is no secret.
As we know the painting project was taking place through out this time, and VDOT was gearing up to do the Deck rehabilitation and structural repairs through the last quarter of 2018.
Where are we today?
>>>Sadly it would appear that once funded and based on the draft of the Executive Summary Report:
VDOT & the CTB have another year to finish their review, generate the executive summary funding report for VITAL structures and submit it for approval.
After that it will be 2-3 years before the appropriations are introduced into the Six Year Improvement Program (SYIP).
As required by law, the Commonwealth Transportation Board allocates public funds to transportation projects over six-fiscal years, comprising the Six-Year Improvement Program.
**According to this timeline we can expect more structural repairs in 5-7 years and finally, Replacement of the Robert O. Norris bridge in another 25-28 years.**
I have submitted several [FOIA] regarding the information contained in the draft version of the Executive Summary report, and have requested a status update on the October 2018 structural evaluation done on the bridge every two years.
(“Is the bridge structurally deficient?”)
My inquiries have either been reviewed and passed on for response or in the case of the strucural evaluation, the final information will not be available until after the first of the year.
Once I receive my follow up response to the FOIA requests I'll recap my then current understanding.