Funding Stalls for Long-Needed Bridge Replacement in Falls Church

(Updated 8/20/2020) A much-needed bridge replacement is on pause while the City of Falls Church waits to hear if the Virginia Department of Transportation will award the project funding.

Oak Street Bridge, which crosses Tripps Run, is in poor condition. Yearly inspections since 2012 have found several safety concerns and an urgent need to repair or replace the bridge.

While the bridge was repaired last year to fix damage from severe flooding, Falls Church officials want to replace it to make it safer and a better fit for the community.

A staff update to the Falls Church City Council last Monday (Aug. 10) on projects in the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) shared that the bridge replacement is the only CIP project that has stopped during the pandemic.

The CIP update noted that the city was expecting to hear back in May or June about its application to VDOT’s State of Good Repair (SGR) program for the remaining $928,000. As of last Monday, the city hasn’t heard anything.

“The SGR program is one of the very few funding sources available for paving and bridges that requires no match,” staff said in the update, noting that infrastructure funding was already competitive before the pandemic.

In November, city staff said that construction could begin in early 2021. The CIP update last week noted that the project design is 90% complete, but the funding shortfall is holding the project up.

Previously, the city announced that the $2.6 million replacement received partial funding through Regional Surface Transportation Program funds.

Aside from the bridge, the majority of the city’s CIP projects have progressed during the pandemic, with 18 on schedule and 11 facing delays. Since the last CIP update in January, the city finished two projects — sanitary sewer infrastructure in West Falls Church and primary extension paving along East Broad Street and Hillwood Avenue.

The city also added two new projects to the CIP list after the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) granted the total funding. One project received $6.9 million to address transit access and multimodal connectivity in West Falls Church. The other project, which received $8.3 million, will tackle multimodal improvements in the downtown area.

The CIP update last week noted that receiving the full funding for both projects was “unexpected, but much needed.”

Update corrects name of NVTA

Image via City of Falls Church

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