VDOT partners with Radford University on geological testing at Natural Bridge

As part of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s work with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation at Natural Bridge State Park in Rockbridge County, a geological analysis is being performed on the formation known as Natural Bridge. Route 11, which is maintained by VDOT, sits on top of Natural Bridge but the formation is not inspected by VDOT.

vdot road workVDOT and DCR are committed to the preservation of Natural Bridge for current and future generations.  DCR is beginning its master planning process for Natural Bridge State Park.

To assist DCR with its master planning work, VDOT engineers and geologists began planning a series of non-destructive geological tests to be completed in 2017. A written analysis is part of this work. VDOT has contracted testing services through an agreement between the Virginia Transportation Research Council in Charlottesville and Radford University.

The testing will be led by Dr. Chester (Skip) Watts of the Environmental and Engineering Geosciences Program at the Department of Geology at Radford University. Dr. Watts specializes in engineering geology and is a Certified Professional Geologist in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Dr. Watts is the past Dalton Distinguished Professor of Geology at Radford University and now heads the Geohazards Research Center.

The following tests are part of VDOT’s geological testing and tests to be performed by Dr. Watts:

  • Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) – provides 2D imaging of existing roadway layers.
  • Terrestrial Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) – provides a three dimensional representation of the geological formation’s surface features.
  • Unmanned Aerial System Surveys – provides visual surface photographs and enhances surface mapping,
  • Electrical Resistivity – measures resistivity of the material at various depths provides, which is an indication of the material type (rock, sand, air) and water content. These data provide a 2-D image of the formation subsurface for use in later analyses
  • Seismic Reflection or Refraction – helps measure the density of rock and how sensitive the rock is to vibration.
  • Vibration monitoring, geophones, or other monitoring tools – measures ground movement, such as vibration from an external source.

This testing material will be reviewed by an advisory board whose members are independent of DCR and VDOT. At the conclusion of all testing an interim report will be produced by early 2018 with the final report in spring 2018.

For more information on VDOT’s work with DCR for Natural Bridge please visit VDOT’s Staunton District Projects and Study page and look under studies. Here is a link: www.virginiadot.org/projects/staunton/rockbridge_county_8211_route_11_natural_bridge_state_park.asp

The testing will not affect visitors or exhibits at Natural Bridge State Park. Motorists should be aware that a portion of Route 11 (Lee Highway) through Natural Bridge State Par is scheduled to be closed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, October 3, through Thursday, October 5.

The Route 11 closure is between Route 130 (Wert Falkner Highway) and Route 760 (Golf Course Road.) Drivers can access Natural Bridge State Park or the Natural Bridge Hotel and Conference Center by using Interstate 81 exit 180, and then following Route 11 south for about 3.5 miles.

School buses and emergency vehicles will continue to use Route 11 during this time. All other through traffic will detour onto I-81 between exits 175 and 180. All work is weather permitting.

Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at www.511Virginia.org.

The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile friendly website at my.vdot.virginia.gov. Agents are available 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week.

The Staunton District Twitter feed is at @VaDOTStaunton. VDOT can be followed on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube. RSS feeds are also available for statewide information. The VDOT Web page is located at www.VirginiaDOT.org.

The VDOT Staunton District serves Frederick, Shenandoah, Clarke, Warren, Page, Rockingham, Augusta, Highland, Rockbridge, Alleghany and Bath counties.

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