KENSINGTON – Road repair crews finished replacing a damaged deck on the Capital Beltway bridge over Jones Mill Road Monday as part of a $350, 000 project.
SHA spokesperson Charlie Gischlar said the SHA had crews repair the outer loop bridge in response to numerous complaints from motorists about a bumpy road and to prevent the bridge from becoming structurally deficient.
He said drivers called to complain their tires were “getting out of line” after driving across the bridge.
“It’s just an uncomfortable ride. We did it for ride quality,” he said.
The SHA closed two lanes for part of the weekend and two other lanes the rest of the weekend so crews could make the repairs.
State Highway Administration spokesperson David Buck said crews removed the top layer of concrete on the bridge and laid new concrete because it was a more cost-effective method than refilling numerous potholes again.
“Now (we) have a bridge deck that’s a smooth riding surface that will be smooth many years to come,” said Buck Tuesday.
Workers repaired a hole in the bridge during the SHA project to fix potholes. Sunlight shined through the bottom of the bridge that’s part of the outer loop June 4 while at least 10 crew members gathered around the hole examined it.
Gischlar said the hole would have been on the shoulder and therefore was not dangerous, but crews repaired it by the end of the project.
State inspectors examined the bridge in September 2015, said Gischlar. The deck received a rating of five out of nine and the superstructure and substructure each received a six out of nine. He and Buck said the numbers indicate the bridge is not structurally deficient. A five rating equates to “fair,” Gischlar said.
The deck rating applied to more than just the top surface of the bridge.
“(The) deck itself is also comprised of parapet walls and side walls and everything else that’s up there,” said Gischlar.
Buck said the last two winters resulted in greater damage to the roadway than in previous years. The pavement expands and contracts when the temperature changes, causing the pavement to wear out. In addition, the use of salt on the roads further damages the asphalt.
Sheets of wood sheathing cover sections of the underside of the bridge so pieces that might fall from the bridge deck do not hit oncoming traffic below.
“We put that normally on most of our bridges going over a road (to catch) parts that spalls or comes off,” said Buck.
Gischlar described the debris as “little, tiny almost sand-like particles.”
“(We) don’t want that to fall on cars or pedestrians,” he added.