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Covered Bridges in Virginia

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Humpback Bridge - Virginia's Oldest Covered Bridge. Photos courtesy of VDOT.

In memory or imagination, covered bridges conjure up sights and sounds of days gone by. In Virginia, they began to dot the countryside nearly two centuries ago. Spanning rivers and streams, their number grew to the hundreds.

Eventually they gave way to their vulnerability to flood and fire, and to the technology that replaced the wooden peg with the metal bolt and the broadtimbers with narrow steel. By 1900, the overhead steel truss bridge had become the engineers’ design of choice.

Relatively few covered bridges survived into the early years of the 20th century. Most of them reflected the evolution in design of three pioneers in the annals of bridge construction:

Theodore Burr, who patented the Burr arch bridge in 1817

Ithiel Town, who patented the Town lattice design in 1835

William Howe, who in 1840 patented a design that combined iron uprights with wooden supports

Today in Virginia, only seven covered bridges still stand. Four have been preserved as landmarks and three are on private property. You are invited to visit these picturesque structures that span time as well as water.

Humpback Bridge – Virginia’s Oldest Covered Bridge

The venerable Humpback Bridge lays claim to being the oldest of Virginia’s remaining covered bridges.

Located in Alleghany County, just west of Covington, it was built in 1857.

It was part of the James River and Kanawha Turnpike and succeeds three other bridges at the site.

It stretches over Dunlap Creek, a tributary of the Jackson River that joins the Cowpasture River near Iron Gate to form the James River.

The first structure was built in the 1820s and was washed away by a flood on May 12, 1837.

The second fell victim to the flood of July 13, 1842.

The third, as the annual report of the turnpike company put it, “gave way” in 1856.

The 100-foot-long, single-span structure is four feet higher at its center than it is at either end, thus the name, “Humpback”.

Traffic across the bridge ceased in 1929 when it was replaced with a “modern” steel truss bridge.

Restoration
The bridge stood derelict — and was even used by a nearby farmer to store hay — until the 1950s.

The Business and Professional Women’s Club of Covington and the Covington Chamber of Commerce raised funds to have the bridge restored and preserved as part of Alleghany County’s history.

Humpback Bridge was reopened to the public in 1954 as the centerpiece of an attractive wayside.

In the summer of 2013, the Humpback Bridge underwent additional restorations using funds from the National Historic Covered Bridge Program.

Humpback Bridge can be reached from Interstate 64 by taking exit 10 to Route 60 and traveling one-half mile east, or by taking Route 60 west from Covington.

Meem’s Bottom Bridge

Meem’s Bottom Bridge

One of the best-known covered bridges is the 204-foot single-span Burr arch truss known as Meem’s Bottom in Shenandoah County.

Here it is possible to step back into the past, while less than a half-mile away the hum of modern-day traffic can beheard on Interstate 81.

The site takes its name from the Meem family that owned large landholdings in the area. This long span over the North Fork of the river carried traffic for more than 80 years before being burned by vandals on Halloween in 1976.

After salvaging the original timbers, the bridge was reconstructed and eventually undergirded with steel beams and concrete piers.

Succeeding several earlier bridges, the Meem’s Bottom Bridge was built in 1894. Materials were cut and quarried nearby for the massive arch supports and stone abutments, which extend 10 feet below the riverbed.

Previous bridges in this spot were washed away in the floods of 1870 and 1877. The next bridge, built in 1878, stood until it was replaced by the present bridge.

The bridge is reached easily from Interstate 81 at exit 269 between New Market and Mount Jackson. Follow Route 730 from the interchange for four-tenths of a mile to Route 11. Go north on Route 11 for nine-tenths of a mile to Route 720 and the west a short distance to the river.

It also can be reached off Route 11, four miles north of New Market and about two miles south of Mount Jackson.


Bob White Bridge

Bob White Bridge

On Sept. 29, 2015, the Bob White Covered Bridge was washed away during a flood.

In an effort to raise funds to rebuild the bridge, various events and fundraisers are being steered by the Covered Bridge Committee, a 501(C)3 organization in Patrick County.

Their plan is to rebuild the bridge with timber to match the original design and create a replica and historical kiosk from remnants of the bridge that were found after the flood.

Jack’s Creek Bridge

Jack’s Creek Bridge

Jack’s Creek Bridge crosses the Smith River in Patrick County on Route 615 just west of Route 8, about two miles south of Woolwine. The 48-foot span, built in 1914, has been replaced by a modern bridge but is being retained.

Jack’s Creek Bridge can be seen from Route 8 at its intersection with Route 615, or it can be reached by turning west two-tenths of a mile on Route 615.

Sinking Creek Bridge

Sinking Creek Bridge

The Sinking Creek Bridge (also known as Clover Hollow Bridge), a 70-foot span currently maintained by Giles County, was left in place for the property owner when a new bridge was built in 1949. It was built circa 1916 with modified Howe trusses.

The bridge is located just off Route 601 between Route 42 and Route 700, north of Route 460.

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How to optimize your EV’s performance in winter

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If you own an electric vehicle (EV), you’ll need to adjust your driving habits come winter. This is because the battery powering it functions best at temperatures between 40- and 115-degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, low temperatures cause the fluid inside the battery to become sluggish, which impacts the car’s range and how long it takes to recharge. Here’s how to get the most out of your EV, despite the cold weather.

Dealing with your limited range
A temperature that’s below freezing may cut the distance your car can cover by as much as 30 percent. This is because it needs to reserve some power to keep the battery within operating temperature. To work around this, charge your battery more often than usual and plan your trips carefully.

Optimizing your EV’s charge time
Recharging a battery that’s freezing cold takes longer than recharging one that’s substantially warmer. This is because before it can be recharged, a fair amount of energy is required to heat up the cold battery (a safeguard that prevents it from getting damaged).

Drivers should therefore ensure they have at least a 20 percent charge left in their battery when they plug in their EV. This allows the battery to warm quickly and significantly speeds the time it takes to recharge it. If the battery is more depleted than this, you could get stuck waiting longer than you’d like.

As a final tip, heating the interior of your EV while it’s charging is a good way to mitigate the effects of cold weather and maximize the car’s range. You’re now ready to cruise through winter without a hitch.

If your car’s equipped with seat warmers, use them instead of the hot air to heat up the cabin as they draw less power.

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A history of roads in Virginia: The 1990s – new technologies and funding infusions

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I-81 became a major north-south artery for long-haul truckers.

The 1990s brought no slowdown in the increasing needs of Virginians for mobility. Surging volumes of traffic — combined with aging highways, accelerating technological progress, and landmark legislation — brought a dynamic set of challenges to transportation in the century’s last decade. Public demands for more transportation capacity were met with dramatic increases in transportation funding and burgeoning highway construction programs. In that context, VDOT sought and implemented continuous innovation in its management and engineering programs.

From 1980 to 1990, vehicle registrations jumped from 4 million to 5 million. Miles traveled daily in Virginia leaped from 105 million to 165 million. Despite the demand for more roads and bridges, voters indicated in 1990 that they were unwilling to give up completely the “pay-as-you-go” philosophy of funding for transportation. In a referendum, they turned down a proposal to sell pledge bonds to finance highway improvements.

At the same time, the commonwealth was moving toward a more modern transportation infrastructure. In 1990 the General Assembly, at Gov. Douglas Wilder’s request, created separate secretariats for transportation and public safety, functional areas that had been combined in the past. The legislation also provided that the secretary of transportation would serve as chairman of the CTB, and the commissioner of the Department of Transportation would become vice-chairman.

Within a few months, however, the department experienced the effects of a weakening economy. The resulting loss of revenue caused VDOT to scale back maintenance, mowing, and snow plowing; and the value of construction contracts awarded for highway improvements fell 28 percent from 1990 to 1991.

By 1992 more than 100 highway projects had been delayed. In addition, maintaining and rebuilding roads — especially aging interstate highways — was becoming a special challenge. Help was on the way, however, in a new federal aid package.

Produced by the
Virginia Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
1401 E. Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
VirginiaDOT.org

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Winter driving: 5 things to check before you go

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Roads can be dangerous in the winter, especially in extreme weather. Stay safe by checking the five following things every time you get behind the wheel.

1. Fuel
Fill your gas tank as often as possible to prevent condensation from forming. While it’s not an issue when the temperature is warm, condensation can freeze and create blockages in the fuel lines in the winter.

2. Windshield washer fluid
Sloppy weather conditions may force you to use more washer fluid than usual to keep your windshield clear. To ensure you can always see the road ahead, check fluid levels often and keep an extra bottle in your trunk.

3. Snow removal
In some states, not removing snow from your car before getting behind the wheel puts you at risk of incurring a driving infraction. Besides, failing to do so is extremely dangerous. Snow can slide down your roof and obstruct your view, and chunks of ice may fly off your car and hit vehicles behind you, potentially causing a serious accident.

4. Weather forecast
While few of us are able to plan our comings and goings around the weather, checking the forecast before leaving will allow you to account for potential delays caused by bad weather. In difficult conditions, leave earlier to ensure you can drive at a safe speed and, if possible, stay home during severe storms.

5. Roads and traffic
Stay informed about local road conditions and try to avoid hazardous, icy and poorly plowed areas. Take a longer route if it allows you to avoid a dangerous commute.

Finally, if your car is showing signs of deterioration or is performing poorly, be sure to visit a local mechanic as soon as possible.

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A history of roads in Virginia: Transit makes its mark

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Northern Virginia’s I-66 was completed in 1982 as a four-lane limited access highway. It’s among
Virginia’s first projects to incorporate multimodal connectivity. It featured Metrorail in the median.

When funds for highway construction doubled, so did funds for public transportation services. Increasing pressures for these services were felt in all sections of Virginia.

Public transportation service includes a lot more than buses in the cities or the Metrorail subway in the Washington, D.C., area. It includes ridesharing efforts with car and van pools, park-and-ride lots, special high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on congested highways for vehicles carrying at least two and sometimes three people, special transportation for elderly and handicapped persons, and development of commuter rail service.

By the late 1980s, public transportation was making its mark. More than two-thirds of the people crossing the Potomac River between Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., during rush hours traveled either by public transit or car pool. But many more innovations beyond public transportation would be required to keep Virginia moving in the last decade of the century.

Produced by the
Virginia Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
1401 E. Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
VirginiaDOT.org

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A history of roads in Virginia: Special action in Northern Virginia

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Sections of the Fairfax County Parkway were built with county, state and federal funds.

Due to the critical transportation needs in Northern Virginia, those localities took the lead in adopting alternative financing methods for highway construction and improvement projects.

Northern Virginia was first in using a “proffer” system that allowed the counties to negotiate with private developers in zoning matters so the developers paid for needed public improvements, such as new streets and schools, in return for favorable zoning decisions.

Some local governments also issued their own bonds for highway work. Proceeds from these bond sales were used either to supplement state funds or to build road projects for which state funds were not available.

In 1988, the General Assembly, with the support of Gov. Baliles, approved legislation that allowed private companies to build and operate for-profit toll roads. Companies must have their plans approved by state and local officials before building, and the toll structure must be approved by the State Corporation Commission. Private firms took the lead in other highway projects in Northern Virginia. The first 1.5-mile segment of one of Fairfax County’s most-needed roads was built by a developer in conjunction with construction of a major office park.

County, state, and federal funds were used to build other sections of the 35-mile Fairfax County Parkway. Another example of public and private sector cooperation was the financing of the improvements to Route 28 in Northern Virginia. The state sold bonds to widen and upgrade the heavily congested road near Dulles Airport, with the owners of commercial and industrial land in the area paying off the  bonds through a special property tax. This first special tax district was authorized by the General Assembly in 1987. Since then, similar tax districts have been permitted
in other areas of the state.

The transportation initiatives and increased funding since 1986 meant a doubling, and in some areas a tripling, of the highway construction program. That kind of expansion in a short time frame could have led to problems if steps to address them were not taken. There were two questions in particular that had to be answered: could the road-building industry absorb the additional work, especially without a jump in prices, and could VDOT manage such an expanded program?

The answer to both questions was “yes.” The COT 21 members had looked into the first, and Gov. Baliles and the legislature had taken steps to deal with the second. The cost of highway construction remained stable, in part because of the increased competition for the road-building dollars. The number of contractors interested in working on Virginia’s roads increased, as did the number who bid on the various construction projects.

The department took several steps to discourage and detect collusion while making sure bids and prices remained competitive in the expanded construction program. Among the steps was the creation of the nation’s first full-time, multi-person, antitrust unit in a state transportation agency.

When Gov. Baliles first proposed his transportation initiatives, he brought in a management expert, Ray D. Pethtel, to head the 11,000-employee agency. Pethtel, who previously had served as head of JLARC, instituted a series of changes within the agency to make it more efficient and effective.

The time it took to complete highway projects was cut 20 percent, and the job was being done with fewer people per dollars spent. Substantial authority was decentralized to field offices around the state. Training was given new emphasis, along with increased communication with employees, the general public, elected officials, construction contractors, design and engineering consultants, minority-owned businesses, and others.

Use of computers and other technology increased in areas from surveying to drafting.

Produced by the
Virginia Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
1401 E. Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
VirginiaDOT.org

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4 things to do when buying a used vehicle

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If you’re buying a used vehicle, you want to ensure that you don’t get stuck with a dud. To make an informed purchase, follow these four steps.

1. Ensure that it isn’t stolen
Thieves will sometimes try to sell stolen cars, so it’s worth taking the following precautions:

• Make sure the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the dashboard identification plate matches the number on the vehicle’s registration.
• Ask the seller for a piece of photo ID to ensure that the name on the ID matches the one on the registration.
• Ask to see the vehicle’s service records.

2. Thoroughly inspect it
When you examine the car, take your time. Here a are few things buyers sometimes forget to look for:

• Signs of a paint job. Recent body work may indicate an effort to cover up defects.
• Tire wear. Make sure the tires are in good shape and that the tread on them is evenly worn.
• A spare tire. Check that it’s in the trunk, along with a jack and wheel wrench.

3. Take it for a test drive
Make sure you feel safe in the vehicle and that you like the way it handles. You should also watch out for mechanical issues during the test drive. Check that the engine gages and warning lights are working and that the brakes feel firm.

4. Get a mechanic to inspect it
Hire a professional mechanic to perform an inspection before making your decision. They’ll be able to spot anything you missed and give you a detailed report.

If the seller already has an inspection report, verify that it’s from a reputable garage.

Remember, sellers won’t always divulge every known problem. By asking specific questions and conducting a thorough inspection, you can make an informed decision.

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‘Tis the Season

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Front Royal
35°
Cloudy
07:2216:51 EST
Feels like: 35°F
Wind: 2mph NNE
Humidity: 95%
Pressure: 30.1"Hg
UV index: 0
FriSatSun
min 34°F
49/39°F
47/33°F

Quotes

Upcoming Events

Dec
13
Fri
6:00 pm Holiday Open House @ Ruby Yoga
Holiday Open House @ Ruby Yoga
Dec 13 @ 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Holiday Open House @ Ruby Yoga
Ruby Yoga will host a Holiday Open House Friday, Dec. 13. Doors open at 6 p.m. with free gentle yoga starting at 6:20, followed by refreshments and door prize drawings.
7:30 pm Canticum Novum: Sing a New Song @ Front Royal Presbyterian Church
Canticum Novum: Sing a New Song @ Front Royal Presbyterian Church
Dec 13 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Canticum Novum: Sing a New Song @ Front Royal Presbyterian Church
The Blue Ridge Singers presents its 2019 Christmas concert titled “Canticum Novum:  Sing a New Song” featuring some of the finest Christmas choral music across the centuries at one of the most popular events in[...]
Dec
14
Sat
11:00 am Celebrate George Washington @ Samuels Public Library
Celebrate George Washington @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 14 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Celebrate George Washington @ Samuels Public Library
December 14 is the 220th anniversary of George Washington’s death. Today we will learn more about this great leader of our country and celebrate his legacy. Refreshments will be served. For ages 7 to 18.[...]
11:00 am Saturday with Santa @ Warren County Community Center
Saturday with Santa @ Warren County Community Center
Dec 14 @ 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Saturday with Santa @ Warren County Community Center
Bring the kids and your camera for yummy snacks, crafts, and a picture with Santa and Mrs. Claus! All are welcome!
1:00 pm “Clara, Little Mouse & the Golde... @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
“Clara, Little Mouse & the Golde... @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Dec 14 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
"Clara, Little Mouse & the Golden Key" @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Join us for this original version of the timeless story ballet The Nutcracker Suite. Follow Clara and Little Mouse on a journey to find what the Golden Key unlocks… Christmas will never be the same[...]
Dec
15
Sun
4:00 pm R-MA Hosts Community Christmas C... @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
R-MA Hosts Community Christmas C... @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
Dec 15 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
R-MA Hosts Community Christmas Concert @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
The local community is invited to join the Randolph-Macon Academy family for an afternoon of holiday spirit with the R-MA Band and Chorus! The annual R-MA Christmas Concert will be held on Sunday, December 15th,[...]
Dec
17
Tue
4:30 pm Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 17 @ 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Tuesday, December 3: Kids will explore popular books and book series through science, games, food, and more! After reading a Christmas story, we’ll discuss giving and how it affects us and the people around us.[...]
7:30 pm Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Dec 17 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Christmas Concert | Presented by the American Legion Community Band Tuesday, December 17, 2019, at 7:30 pm Boggs Chapel on the R-MA campus in Front Royal, VA
Dec
18
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 18 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 4 and Thursday, December 5: Gingerbread and Candy Canes will be the delicious theme of our stories, songs, and craft this week! Siblings welcome.[...]
Dec
19
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 19 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 4 and Thursday, December 5: Gingerbread and Candy Canes will be the delicious theme of our stories, songs, and craft this week! Siblings welcome.[...]