Al Weed, the Democratic candidate for Congress in Virginia's 5th District, today offered a proposal for saving Clarkton Bridge from VDOT's planned Friday demolition of the 103 year-old structure. Weed suggested applying for inclusion of the bridge in the Virginia Landmarks and National Historic Registers and getting a court injunction to halt the demolition pending the result of the application.
"It's crazy for VDOT to spend taxpayer dollars to destroy an historic and cherished local landmark - especially since it would cost more to destroy Clarkton Bridge than to renovate it," said Weed, a Nelson County farmer and retired Command Sergeant Major in the U.S. Army Special Forces. "Not only is this government bureaucracy at its worst, it's the only time I've ever seen VDOT try to do anything on time."
In addition to explaining the bridge's historic significance, Weed pointed out the economic benefits of preserving rather than demolishing Clarkton Bridge.
According to Weed, Charlotte and Halifax County businesses would profit from the nature tourism and heritage tourism that would be drawn to the unique landmark. The bridge would be a sure tourist draw with its ideal location overlooking the Staunton River, its potential as a stop on the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, its position as a link in a regional hiking-biking-riding trail network, and its charming architecture.
"Here we have a perfect example of something that can help create jobs in Southside that can't be shipped off to China, and VDOT wants to tear it down. It's nuts."
In addition to having experience as a farmer and a soldier, Weed has experience in rural land use issues and land conservation. For his years of conservation work, Governor Mark Warner recognized Mr. Weed's efforts by naming him as the 5th District Trustee for the Virginia Land Conservation Trust Fund.
"Sometimes the effort to preserve tradition may look like an effort to block progress. In this case, demolishing the Clarkton Bridge chips away at our heritage and achieves no progress. VDOT would be wrong to tear down the bridge," said Weed. "Governments are supposed to take orders from their citizens - not the other way around."