Speedy Shadwell Bridge Opening Means Worker Layoffs

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The Shadwell Bridge on Route 250 in Albemarle County is opening Friday morning, which is weeks earlier than expected. But those who worked hard to finish the project so fast are being laid off after it is finished.

The people on the crew are not contract workers; they are full-time employees, many of whom worked for the construction company, Fairfield-Echols, for years before finding out days ago that their time is up.

"It's just kind of heartbreaking really," said one of the employees who is being laid off, but wished to remain anonymous for fear of risking his job for the remainder of the project.

The crews have been renovating the bridge since last fall.  It was supposed to open July 9, but they worked overtime to get it done three weeks early. Some workers tell NBC29 that they worked more than 70 hours a week at times.

Fairfield-Echols will get a $100,000 incentive for the project finishing early.

"We worked long hours on it and stuff and worked late into the evenings and all of a sudden they just want to lay us off. We finished it way ahead of schedule, they at least should have sent us somewhere for a few more weeks," said the construction worker who spoke to NBC29.

Project superintendent Spencer Mills doesn't deny that they said there'd be more work. "It was kind of an understanding that as it was finishing up we would have other work, but that kind of fell through," Mills said. "But they found other work so they won't be drawing unemployment."

Three employees are being laid off part-time and three are being laid off full-time. NBC29 spoke to Fairfield-Echols President David Graham by phone.  Graham said that they did their best to relocate workers to other projects and to help them secure other jobs, but the company is struggling to secure work to keep their employees in the field.