Historic Character of Goshen Bridge to be Lost Forever in Imminent Repairs
"There is no other bridge like it on the Blue Ridge Parkway," lamented Gary Johnson, Chief of Planning and Professional Services for the Blue Ridge Parkway. "We will be loosing an important detail and driving experience with the bridge repairs."
If you have never looked underneath the Goshen Bridge at Bamboo Road and Milepost 286.3, you need to. The huge rock parapets rising nearly a hundred feet from the stream below are reminiscent of the great aqueducts of Rome but on a much smaller scale. Not a common visitor viewpoint, inspecting the bridge from below does leave one with a sense of awe --- a testimony to the great engineering marvel that exemplifies this unique national park.
The Goshen Creek Bridge was constructed in 1948. Approaching and crossing the bridge in a vehicle is an understatement, much to the accomplishment of its meticulous landscape design. The approach grading, heavy stone masonry walls, and gently curved curbing guard walls provide a sense of wondering, "did I just cross something?"
The design element to get the complete make-over are the vertical picket rails which are integrated into bridge deck concrete and curbing --- the problem is that they are no longer deemed crashworthy by the engineers of the Federal Highways Administration (FHA) which holds the purse strings for the project. It is interesting to note that in 40 years, there has never been an accident on this bridge to test their crashworthiness.
Fortunately, the Parkway is in a strict category of veneration and is eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places and for designation as a National Historic Landmark. The FHA has to treat the Parkway with white gloves, but that is not to say they do not get their say.
A compromise was mitigated with the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO)for an extensive recordation project. For the purposes of history, the current bridge will be extensively photographed and video taken of the bridge while approaching it from both directions at 10, 25, and 45 miles per hour. These records will be retained in the archives of the Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina Division of Archives and History/State Historic Preservation Office, and Eastern Federal Land Highway Division office in Sterling, Virginia.
The bridges reconstruction project will include a new concrete deck, replacement of the historic bridge rail system, removal of asphalt bridge deck paving including replacement with a modified concrete overlay, and the addition of a new modern guardrail.
Goshen Creek Bridge Project Details
The National Park Service/Blue Ridge Parkway (NPS/BLRI) has determined that the Goshen Creek Bridge, originally built in 1948 at Milepost 286.3 requires reconstruction, replacement of the historic bridge rail system, removal of asphalt bridge deck paving including replacement with a modified concrete overlay, and addition of guardrails at leading approach wing wall is necessary.
The National Park Service has determined that this project could have an adverse effect on the Goshen Creek Bridge that contributes to the national significance of the Blue Ridge Parkway, a property that has been determined to be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places and designation as a National Historic Landmark and has consulted with the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).
Prior to the initiation of reconstruction of the Bridge, NPS/BLRI shall record the existing condition of the Bridge. This will include its historic designed landscape surroundings and the Bridge's unique historical architectural detailing including parapet walls, picket bridge rail, bituminous surface and expansion joints, masonry wing walls, and deck and superstructure details. The written and photographic documentation will be deposited with the Blue Ridge Parkway Archives Office in Asheville, North Carolina and a copy provided to the North Carolina SHPO.
The replacement of the historic picket bridge rail, removal of asphalt bridge deck paving and replacement with a modified concrete overlay, and addition of guardrails at leading approach wing wall ends for the Goshen Creek Bridge will not be used as a precedent for the treatment of any other bridge projects on the Blue Ridge Parkway
For other bridge projects along the Parkway the placement of guardrails at wing walls will be evaluated to determine its effect on the designed landscape setting of each bridge. Primary objectives for repair and rehabilitation of the bridges on the Blue Ridge Parkway include: I.) long term maintenance of the architectural details specific to a particular bridge, 2.) maintaining the overall appearance of the motor road's appearance as a continuous uniform surface in terms of color, texture and materials, and 3.) the safety of visitors.
PROJECT DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
The new guardrails, deck and bridge rail will meet the following parameters:
- Guardrails to be installed at the north and southbound terminal ends of the Bridge will be the standard steel backed timber guardrail design used along the Parkway. The guardrails will not be attached to the historic masonry wing walls but rather will utilize a non-attached detail.
- Deck overlay silica fume modified concrete overlay is being installed on this bridge because the deck is being replaced with pre-cast concrete panels. The silica fume overlay was made part of the design of this Bridge to provide additional structural strength to the deck. The silica fume concrete overlay will be a modified concrete material colored dark gray to match the weathered bituminous asphalt road surface of the Parkway motor road on either end of the Bridge.
- The bridge rail will be the three-bar rail type used on the George Washington Memorial Parkway. An attempt was made to design a new crashworthy parapet wall and picket rail detail that would simulate the original non-crashworthy rail system but was unsuccessful in matching the same visual appearance.