VDOT and Scientists Team Up to Assess Natural Bridge in Rockbridge County

Posted: Updated: Oct 04, 2017 10:10 PM

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is teaming up with a handful of scientists to make sure Natural Bridge in Rockbridge County, a geological formation created more than 500 million years ago, stays intact.

Crews are working to preserve Natural Bridge, located in the Natural Bridge State Park. The bridge is 215 feet high, has a 90 foot span between the two sides, and Route 11 sits on top of the formation.

VDOT is working with the Virginia Department of Recreation and Conservation as well as Radford University. Crews are conducting a series of geological tests while VDOT is assessing the future of the highway above the bridge.

"[We will] really get a determination for the very first time what Natural Bridge looks like…inside and out,” said Ken Slack of VDOT.

Crews are running tests to make sure that nothing damages the limestone gorge, to ensure it will stay intact for years to come.

"[We are] sending shock waves down to the pavement and then below the pavement. The velocity of those shock waves will tell us what materials we have down there,” said Dr. Skip Watts of Radford University.

The plan is to create a 3-D model of the outer parts of the bridge. Preliminary results should be in around the end of this year or early 2018. Test results will go before a panel of esteemed geologists from all over the world.

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