Route 5, Barrett’s Ferry Bridge, over the Chickahominy River


Virginia Department of Transportation


Charles City, Virginia

Key Challenges & Project Details

  • Project consisted of the emergency repair of a failing pier supporting a portion of the Barrett’s Ferry Bridge
  • 2,025′ long, 24′ wide, two lane, 29-span swing span bridge connecting James City and Charles City counties along Route 5
  • During many years of use, one of the rest piers began to settle, causing problems with the operation of the swing span
  • The swing span, one of only a few in Virginia, moves sideways to allow marine traffic to pass through
  • Due to a lack of structural integrity, the bridge closed to traffic, which required drivers to make a 60-mile detour to get across the Chickahominy River
  • Required design of a temporary cantilevered support system to support the superstructure at the failing pier to enable removal of portions of the pier
  • The pier movement had locked the swing span in the closed position, which only allowed small pleasure boats to navigate up or downstream under the bridge
  • Corman and JMT redesigned the repair of the pier, fabricating two new steel bents and floating them by barges to both side of the failing rest pier
  • Pipe piles (120′ x 36″) were then driven through 40′ deep water into the riverbed to support these new steel bents
  • Steel bents were then pulled to grade and welded in place and the east approach span rested safely on new piers
  • Challenges included the aggressive schedule and redesign and fabrication of the cantilevered, temporary, support system and new steel bents
  • Williams Bridge successfully committed to fabricating and supplying the steel in the short time period required
  • Additional challenge was moving the necessary crane, located in North Carolina, to the job over the July 4th weekend, which required special permission and police escort.
  • Project completed on time, despite necessity of complete redesign and aggressive schedule

Design Partner