AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — After just over two months, a historic bridge along Knightly Mill Rd. (Rt. 778) officially reopened on Thursday.
According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, the bridge – which crosses Middle River between Kentmere Lane and Battlefield Rd. – now has signs listing a weight limit of three tons for any vehicle crossing the bridge.
The bridge was shut down back in October, along with a bridge on Craig Shop Rd. (Rt. 775) crossing Middle River, because VDOT inspections found both bridges to be potentially unsafe.
Safety inspectors found significant deterioration of the structures of each bridge. As historic bridges, both are steel truss bridges with timber decks over 110 years old. Built for early 20th century vehicles, VDOT says they simply weren't designed to bear the weight of heavier modern vehicles, and time has significantly weakened structural elements of both bridges.
For the Knightly Mill Bridge, repairs were made since October, allowing it to reopen, but only to passenger vehicles.
The bridge was originally built in 1915.
The Craig Shop Rd. bridge, built earlier in 1908, remains closed. VDOT says they'll continue their inspections of the bridge to evaluate repair needs and costs.
To avoid using that bridge, drivers can either use the Knightly Mill bridge or will have to cross Middle River using Cline River Rd. (Rt. 774), which connects to Craig Shop Rd. and Battlefield Rd. on either side of the river.
To assist in monitoring the Knightly Mill bridge integrity and public safety, VDOT plans to install a traffic camera and monitoring device on the bridge, which will help them monitor traffic volume and make future decisions on the remaining service life of the bridge.
They say any further use by vehicles over 3 tons could cause worse damage, possibly leading to permanent closure of the bridge.
You can call VDOT's 800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623) for information on Virginia's roadways, or use their website at https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/.