The one-lane Waterloo Bridge linking Fauquier and Culpeper Counties will close Wednesday.
Engineers from the Virginia Department of Transportation have deemed the bridge, which feeds into Route 613 in Fauquier County, as too far gone to support the 680 vehicles that drive its length every day.
District Administrator John Lynch said repair and/or replacement options would be costly, amounting to several million dollars. Upgrading and bringing the bridge to current standards could cost $5 million, he said.
Fauquier's Architectural Review committee, chaired by Mary Root, is suggesting that the entire bridge be reconstructed. But that recommendation has not yet gone before Fauquier's Board of Supervisors.
In 1993, a complete study of the bridge was done by the Historic American Engineering Record. Waterloo Bridge was determined to be eligible to be placed in the National Registrar of Historic Places.
It has an overall length of 367 feet which includes the approach leading to the centerpiece, a 100 foot metal truss bridge believed to be the oldest in Northern Virginia and suggesting wrought iron construction.
Lynch said that no federal funding has been identified for this project.
While not openly voiced, it appeared to be the understanding that, moving forward, Culpeper and Fauquier Counties would have to agree to share costs if the decision is made to go ahead with any reconstruction and/or repair.
In Fauquier, students at Kettle Run High School recently established a Facebook page, “Save the Waterloo Bridge.” It has received over a 1000 likes including old photos, fond reminiscence and even some ghost stories.
Before the The Waterloo Bridge was finally rebuilt using metal trusses in 1879, it saw a lot of action during the Civil War changing hands from Confederate to Union hands. After the First Battle of Bull Run, Confederate General Beauregard burned the bridge in July of 1861 on his way back to Richmond. Then in the winter of 1862, Union General Pope had it rebuilt with wooden trusses.
Flooding from the Rappahannock River has also caused damage over the years to the bridge.
While certainly historically relevant and a part of the rich cultural legacy of this area, the bridge and its current condition are not without the consequences of speeding vehicles, loud clanking noise to nearby residents and trucks brought to its entrance via GPS only to find that it isn't strong enough to carry them across.