If you want to go east or west on Griswold Road between Caswell and Route 237 in Stafford, you're going to have to wait a year.
An aging bridge has just become too unstable to handle heavy traffic and the county won't be able to replace it until next June.
"At least the detour around it is not that long," said County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens. "It's not a huge inconvenience. All bridge closures are an inconvenience, but this is not as bad as some are."
The steel multigirder bridge was built in 1941 and widened in 1976. The girders have rusted through to the point that they can't even support two tons.
A few years ago, the bridge was rated for seven tons, then downgraded to four, then two, now 1.8.
"That's about the size of a small SUV," Hens said.
The county looked at reducing the bridge, which crosses over Black Creek, to one lane, but that would require installing Jersey barriers, which are heavy themselves.
"We probably would have overloaded it just to reduce it to one lane, so that wasn't viable either," Hens said.
About five years ago, the county applied for a federal grant to replace the bridge and the process has been moving forward since, but the bridge has become unusable a year earlier than anticipated.
The new bridge is in the design phase now.
Construction should be completed by this time next year, Hens said.
He also said the Griswold bridge is just the tip of the iceberg.
About half of the county's bridges are in nearly as critical condition. Some of those bridges, if closed, will mean seven- and eight-mile detours for residents, farmers and emergency responders.
"We don't have any local money to replace them and it looks like the federal pot is going to get smaller and smaller," Hens said. "The county is going to have some tough decisions, either closing bridges or funding them locally."
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