Fairfax unveils design for new Gabrielson Bridge in Oakton

Fairfax County officials hope to install a prefabricated steel-truss bridge like this one to replace Gabrielson Bridge in Oakton, which they had demolished last September because of safety concerns.

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The Fairfax County Park Authority will host a “virtual” ribbon-cutting ceremony in mid-March to mark the installation and opening of a new bridge in Gabrielson Gardens at Difficult Run Stream Valley Park, located in Oakton.

 The bridge opened to the public Feb. 17.

“I’m so excited that the bridge is installed, as it has been a long and arduous process to get to this moment,” said Supervisor Kathy Smith (D-Sully). “When the original bridge was determined to be structurally deficient in 2016, my office began working with numerous county staff to replace the bridge. Once the funding was secured, I began working with the Fairfax County Park Authority staff to develop a plan to install a bridge that would meet the needs of the community.”

Smith said she was proud of the time and work FCPA staff put into the project, which provides an amenity residents.

“This 75-year-lifespan bridge, which provides access to the Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail and reconnects communities across the Difficult Run, is a reason to celebrate,” Smith said.

The Fairfax County Park Authority Board on Feb. 10 voted to name the new bridge the Burnet Bridge to honor the memory of Thornton and Mary Elizabeth Burnet, who provided decades of support and commitment to the Hunters Valley Community.

The Burnets also were instrumental in helping to develop and preserve the unique environment, community spirit and recreational opportunities of the Hunters Valley area, officials said. The bridge will bear a commemorative plaque in their honor.

The Burnet Bridge replaced a structurally failing 1940s-era bridge, known locally as Gabrielson Bridge, which crossed Difficult Run and connected the Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail with Hunter Valley Way.

The Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services removed the original Gabrielson Gardens bridge in 2018 following an inspection that identified significant safety concerns, officials said.

The contractor, Accubid Construction Services, placed the new bridge at the site in early February and substantially has completed work, allowing the bridge to open for public use. Workers will perform the final grading and tree planting when the site dries out in four or five weeks, weather permitting, officials said.

The additional work will take approximately one week. At that time, the fence on Hunter Valley side will be removed; however, that additional work will not affect access to the Cross County Trail.

The replacement bridge is made of prefabricated steel by Wheeler Lumber LLC of Shakopee, Minn. Funding for the nearly $413,000 project was provided from the Sully District Walkways Fund and via developer proffers.

A virtual ceremony to dedicate the new bridge will take place March 20 at 10 a.m. The Park Authority soon will provide information on how to view and participate in the event.

For more information, contact the agency’s public-information office at (703) 324-8662 or send an e-mail to parkmail@fairfaxcounty.gov.

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