Storm debris cleanup will cost $50,000

Storm debris cleanup will cost $50,000

By Heather Michon, correspondent

“Are you familiar with the word ‘portage’?” a man called out to a group of kayakers carrying their boats to the banks of the Rivanna at the Crofton boat launch a couple weeks ago.

With a small mountain of storm debris piled up against the pillars of the bridge spanning almost the entire breadth of the river, carrying boats around the obstruction – or portaging – has been the only way boaters can pass under the bridge and continue toward Palmyra for more than a month.

But the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) says the pile will soon be gone.

William Merritt, communications coordinator for VDOT’s Culpeper District, said in a recent email that crews all over the district are working to repair storm-damaged bridges and remove debris, and should be ready to take on the Crofton bridge in the coming weeks.

More than an annoyance to boaters and others, the removal of the debris is critical “to avoid significant damage [to the bridge] and reduce the risk of flooding during future storms,” he said.

A contract crew will bring in excavators and other heavy equipment to begin the process of hauling away the mass of felled trees, vegetation, and whatever else was snagged on its way downriver. The boat launch will be closed to traffic while the crews do their work.

VDOT estimates that it will cost around $50,000 to get it all cleaned up.

“The process should take two to three weeks – weather permitting,” said Merritt.

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