A Management Plan for Historic Bridges in Virginia: The 2017 Update

Report No: 18-R6

Published in 2018

About the report:

A Management Plan for Historic Bridges in Virginia, published in 2001, identified the management and treatment needs for 55 historic bridges in Virginia (i.e., bridges that were individually eligible for or listed on the National Register of Historic Places) that were under some measure of state purview. The plan was undertaken to serve as a management tool for these historic bridges. The plan was acknowledged by the historic bridge preservation and bridge engineering communities as one of the most effective such plans in the United States. Included in the plan was a recommendation that it be reviewed and updated at least every 10 to 15 years.

Updates to the plan at 5-year intervals now are required by a 2016 interagency programmatic agreement, which covers the management of cultural resources, including bridges, in Virginia. This agreement is the “Programmatic Agreement Among the Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the Virginia State Historic Preservation Officer, and the Virginia Department of Transportation Regarding Transportation Undertakings Subject to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.” Stipulation III of this agreement specifically treats the management of bridges.

The current report constitutes the first update of the 2001 plan. It entailed the collection of information on the current status of the bridges in the 2001 plan, including any major changes with regard to each bridge since the publication of the 2001 plan. Such changes include changes in National Register status; ownership status; major maintenance; rehabilitation work; damage; deterioration; and in a few cases, dismantling or demolition of the structure. This update also identifies current management issues and includes expanded and updated maintenance and management recommendations for these historic structures. Both the 2001 plan and the current update were produced by the Virginia Transportation Research Council (VTRC), in concert with VDOT’s central office and district structure and bridge engineers and the Virginia Historic Structures Task Group (HSTG) (the interagency group that advises VDOT and other applicable state and federal agencies on questions of historic significance and management of transportation-related structures under VDOT’s purview).

The study recommends the following: (1) VTRC and the HSTG should review and update the management plan every 5 years; (2) VDOT’s Structure and Bridge Division should eliminate the option for inspectors to recommend bridge replacement for historic bridges in inspection reports; (3) VTRC and VDOT’s Structure and Bridge Division should collaborate on an investigation of funding needs for historic bridge management and maintenance; (4) VTRC, VDOT’s Structure and Bridge Division, the appropriate district structure and bridge offices, and VDOT’s Environmental Division should collaborate to identify historic bridges that are candidates for adaptive use, including bicycle and pedestrian use; and (5) VTRC, VDOT’s Structure and Bridge Division, the appropriate district structure and bridge offices, and VDOT’s Environmental Division should collaborate to identify potential avenues to establish best practices for repair of historic masonry structures or masonry components of the bridges in the management plan.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.

Last updated: November 11, 2023

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