To the relief of Fauquier County drivers who have had to endure more than three weeks of detours, it looks like the northbound lanes of U.S. 29 will reopen late in the day on Friday. “The detours will be lifted when the northbound lanes reopen to traffic. The contractor is going to take advantage of the complete closure to get as much work done as possible before reopening the lanes to traffic,” said Lou Hatter, of the Virginia Department of Transportation.
He added, “Once the lanes reopen there will be single-lane closures at night, 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., for the contractor to complete work on the project. The contractor has a fixed completion date of Sept. 30, although it will likely be done before that.”
Stone and asphalt still need to be laid in the northbound lanes, a distance of just under a mile. John Lynch, VDOT Culpeper District engineer, said the road could be opened with barrels in place in advance of the steel guardrail that will follow.
The closure and detours started on July 8 to allow the cutting down of two hills and re-grading of the northbound lanes to improve the view ahead for drivers and to reduce accidents.Chemung Contracting had a deadline to reopen the lanes on Aug. 2, along with a financial incentive to do it sooner. It was awarded a design-build contract with a total estimated cost of $4.6 million.
Tim Hoffman, a committee member who represents the Vint Hill Homeowners Association, said “we didn’t hear anything” during the afternoons when blasting was done. Peter Eltringham, a member of the Fauquier County Transportation Committee, deemed the project a “success” to date, aside from traffic congestion at the intersections of Routes 600 and 215. Committee members thanked members of the Fauquier Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia State Police for their efforts to help ease traffic backups by directing traffic and enforcing the ban on trucks trying to use side roads rather than U.S. 17 northbound by issuing summonses to violators.
Traffic on U.S. 17 has increased but the detour traffic hasn’t “overloaded” it, according to Lou Hatter, VDOT communications manager. He added that there have been 800,000 views of the road blasting posted by VDOT. News media websites that posted it included one from Ukraine, he said.
Reach James Ivancic at email@example.com