A wooden pedestrian bridge connecting the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Regional Trail with the Freeman Store & Museum in Vienna collapsed years ago, but previous attempts to replace it have failed.
The Vienna Town Council on Jan. 24 unanimously awarded a $252,732 contract to Franco’s Liberty Bridge Inc. of Clinton, Md., to construct a new bridge.
The price includes a 10-percent contingency allowance.
“This is third time’s a charm for a bid for this project,” said Public Works Director Michael Gallagher.
The first attempt, sought at a time when contractors were highly in demand, drew no bids. The second try occurred at a time when, as now, lumber prices “were through the roof and the bid came back way beyond our budgets,” Gallagher said.
(Treated lumber also will be the biggest expense with the newly approved project, costing $65,700.)
Vienna officials were able to reduce some of the project’s cost by assigning town staff to do some of the work, especially near the Freeman Store, he said.
Funding will come from federal funds passed down by the Virginia Department of Transportation. VDOT recently authorized the award of a construction contract for the bridge, after reviewing the two bids received with town officials.
The project still faces a cost deficit of about $178,100 and VDOT officials are evaluating an application for additional Transportation Alternatives funds to cover that shortage. If VDOT does not approve that application, the town of Vienna will make up the difference with moneys from its capital-improvements fund.
Council member Howard Springsteen was relieved at the prospect of the project’s moving forward, but questioned some of the contract’s expenses.
“Couldn’t we have two public-works folks with a chainsaw take down the bridge for less than $35,000?” he asked. “I’m serious.”
Gallagher responded that the bridge is down, but some elements have yet to be removed.
“When I first saw the price tag, it took my breath away a little bit,” agreed Council member Charles Anderson. “It seemed like an awful lot.”
A portion of the bridge project will connect directly to the Freeman Store, offering access to the handicapped from the W&OD Trail, Gallagher said. Gallagher did not know if the previous bridge complied with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, but said the new span definitely would.
“Hallelujah!” said Mayor Linda Colbert at the prospect of the bridge’s replacement. “I’m sure former Council member Carey Sienicki is not watching, but we’re going to have to let her know because this has been a long time coming.”