A new weight limit posted on the Truthville Bridge could be the light at the end of the tunnel for residents in North Granville. With the Upper and Lower Turnpike bridges closed, the limit restriction on the third and largest of the three could prompt action by county officials.
The limit on the bridge dropped from unlimited, essentially allowing any vehicle legal for taking to the highways of the state to cross the span, down to 20 tons or 40,000 pounds.
Town Supervisor Matt Hicks said the limit on the bridge might only impact a few businesses in the area east of the Truthville Bridge and should not have an impact on residents driving standard-sized vehicles.
Loaded tractor trailers or logging trucks will likely be the only vehicles pushing or exceeding the new posted limit, he said.
Vehicles exceeding the posted limit will have to detour around to that area of North Granville via Route 22A in Middle Granville, reaching the area from DeKalb Road.
The good news, Hicks said is the bridge could be restored to full capacity with repairs and not replacement.
The 20-ton limit posting signs went up June 3 but the limit is temporary. Washington County Department of Public Works officials said either repairs or the completion of the replacement project can restore the bridge to its original capacity.
County senior engineer Scott Tracy said the state suggested the new weight limit following a recent inspection.
Bridges of the same design have had issues across the state, Hicks said, prompting the state inspection.
According to engineers, what they referred to as ‘sleeper beams’ can be replaced on the bridge to return it to its original weight limit, possibly eliminating the need for the span’s replacement, Hicks said.
“The county is looking into what it can do for the bridge,” Tracy said. “We’re looking into the cost of repairs.”
The cost of repair is being weighed versus the timeliness of the project to replace the bridge.
Tracy said the cost estimate of repairs should be ready in a month or two, meanwhile the public works superintendent Richard Wilson is pushing to get the bridge moved up ‘the list’ of projects. “He’s working hard at doing that,” Tracy said.
The Truthville Bridge remains slated for replacement at this time.
Engineering for the replacement project is completed, but funding is still being sought.
The bridge often referred to as the North Granville bridge, the Lower Turnpike Bridge near Schoony’s Country Store, is currently scheduled for repair next summer.
In 2012 the plan is to remove the bridge, repair it and put it back into place, Hicks said. “We’re working all avenues and all possibilities,” Tracy said.
The department of public works has previously said the historic span’s replacement with a new bridge is cost prohibitive.
Tracy said the Upper Turnpike Bride, which was closed after a volleyball-sized hole was found in the deck, could be reopened, but the relative length of the detour via Thomas Road just across the border from North Granville near Vittengl Ford in Fort Ann makes the repair of that bridge a low propriety for the county.