Canal bridge work to start this week

by Geoff Fox

The C&O Canal National Historical Park has announced the closure of the bridge over the canal in Hancock beginning on or about Thursday, November 19, to all traffic.

Weather permitting, the construction is expected to continue for about four weeks.

Work was originally scheduled to being in late September.

The bridge itself would be prefabricated offsite and then be brought in via truck.

In late 2019, a bridge inspection by the Federal Highway Administration/Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division (FHWA/EFL) found the bridge at the Little Tonoloway Recreation Day Use Area to be unsafe for vehicular traffic.

Due to those conditions, the National Park Service decided to close the bridge to vehicles starting November 7. The bridge remained open to bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

The bridge itself was scheduled for replacement by the NPS under an agreement with FHWA/EFL, but due to the conditions found in 2019, the bridge repair was expedited.

According to the NPS, the scope of the work includes replacing the bridge deck, bridge rail, steel beams, bearings, and curbs.

Reconstruction of the bridge approaches and other miscellaneous work are also included. The existing bridge abutments will also be re-used.

Temporary staging areas will be established directly adjacent to the bridge and in the NPS-owned area across Berm Road.

Pedestrian and cyclist access to the Little Tonoloway Day Use Area is the steel bridge at the bottom of Church Street, which is 0.3 miles east of the bridge.

There is parking available in the Rail Trail lot below Main Street and the town’s parking lot off Canal Street.

Upstream boat ramp access is at Fifteenmile Creek and downstream at McCoys Ferry.

The bridge across the C&O Canal leading to the Little Tonoloway Day Use Area has been closed to vehicular traffic since November 2019. A four-week project to repair and replace the bridge could start this week.