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State Agencies Join In Effort To Preserve
Treasure From Southside Virginia's Past
Unanimously supporting a resolution to take a section of
Route 620 near historic Clarkton Bridge out of the Secondary
Highway System, supervisors took another step Monday night
in "the multistep process" to save the bridge
linking Halifax and Charlotte counties.
VDOT seeks to cease ownership of Clarkton Bridge by March
15, and discontinue jurisdiction over right of way for a
section of Route 620.
Preservationists hope to open the bridge to bicycle and
That plan fits with a developing Halifax County tourism
effort promoting bike, equestrian and pedestrian trails.
Cost estimates to preserve and adapt the bridge for recreational
use have also decreased since first explored.
Clarkton Bridge Alliance spokesman P.K. Pettus said that
VDOT estimated in their report that it would cost roughly
$200,000 to demolish the bridge. VDOT estimates repair to
its decking and a support pier at approximately $218,000.
She said VDOT will make demolition funds available to the
new bridge owner for these costs and support TEA-21 grant
Improvements to the bridge to carry light maintenance vehicles
and remove lead paint could increase the total to more than
$1 million, according to the VDOT report by engineers Wallace
T. McKeel Jr. and Jose P. Gomez of the Va. Transportation
The steps could be phased over time.
Pettus also told supervisors that APVA Preservation Virginia
has agreed to interim ownership of the bridge until a permanent
owner is found, if key conditions are met.
The APVA Board is scheduled to meet later this month.
Identifying a long-term owner of the bridge is one condition,
and the Alliance suggests permanent ownership under a multi-jurisdictional
parks and recreation authority.
The bridge crosses the Staunton River and is located near
Staunton River Battlefield State Park, which claims land
and operates facilities in both Charlotte and Halifax counties.
"It is not over," said Pettus yesterday of the
fight to preserve the bridge. "But working together
we can sit down and figure a way over the hurdles.
"The Clarkton Bridge Alliance and VDOT are working
together as partners toward two shared goals," Pettus
said following the meeting.
"The first is saving Clarkton Bridge, and the second
implementing a plan that will make that happen."
VDOT was described by Pettus as being "resourceful,
gracious and imaginative" in the preservation effort.
In October, Secretary of Natural Resources Tayloe Murphy
convened a meeting to explore options for preserving Clarkton
Participants included Secretary of Transportation Whitt
Clement, who was described Monday night as the first "to
give the bridge a stay of execution," and Deputy Secretary
of Commerce and Trade Matt Erskine.
Also attending were representatives of the Departments of
Historic Resources, Conservation and Recreation, Game and
Inland Fisheries, Virginia Tourism Corporation, local governments
of Charlotte and Halifax, non-for-profit organizations,
including Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation, Historic Staunton
River Foundation, APVA Preservation Virginia and Clarkton
The Alliance spokesman said that following the meeting VDOT
undertook a new study regarding costs of preserving the
bridge for non-vehicular use.
Clarkton Bridge Alliance researched prospects for a regional
parks and recreation authority and steps needed to transfer
Halifax County Alliance members attending the Monday night
meeting included Halifax Town Manager Carl Espy IV, Douglas
Powell, Martha Coates, Dan Shaw and Tom and Edith Stutts.
Also attending the Monday night session were two Charlotte
County supervisors, Haywood Hamlett and Dr. Nancy Carwile.