VDOT suggests replacing historic bridge 5 days before naming ceremony
Two significant meetings concerning the John G. Lewis Bridge on Featherbed Lane took place in late July. On July 28, the historic bridge was the site of its own official naming ceremony, in honor of the Loudoun preservationist who worked to protect it and have it listed on the National Register, with speeches and remarks delivered by several local politicians and groups. Catoctin District Supervisor Geary Higgins organized the bridge naming ceremony to honor John Lewis and his work as well as the historic nature of the bridge. An article in Leesburg Today details the event.
The timing was excellent for this event, since on July 23, VDOT conducted its second Section 106 meeting at the Old Waterford School. The meeting included information from the historic survey conducted near the current road and bridge. The survey included digging 4 to 5 feet underground at multiple sites within the survey area. The only object discovered was a Paleo-Indian spear point, estimated to be from around 1500 B.C.E. The site of Roach’s Mill, which dated from the late 18th century, was thought to be near the bridge, but no artifacts from that period were found.
VDOT also presented a new, seventh option for the historic bridge—replacing it with a completely new steel truss bridge. This option appeared to have little to no support from those attending the meeting. There were many voices at the meeting asking for options that would have the best chance of maintaining the bridge’s current status on the National Register of Historic Places. VDOT indicated that they have not forwarded any of the options to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources for review, so this important information is unknown.
Nearly all of the Section 106 participants made clear they want an option that would continue the bridge’s listing on the National Register. VDOT has not provided the Dept of Historic Resources with the options put forth so far, so they cannot inform us which options would achieve that goal. Another meeting with VDOT will be scheduled when that information is known; then we can begin to determine which option is best.
For more information, contact David Nelson, 703-989-8072.