VDOT To Own, Maintain Bridge
Supporters Must Raise Repair Funds To Include Clarkton
Bridge In Tourism Effort
permanent owner has been named for the Clarkton Bridge and
construction is under way as an effort to turn the bridge
into a regional tourist destination kicks off, members of
the Clarkton Bridge Alliance said yesterday.
Advocates said saving the bridge was the first step in a
regional initiative focusing on heritage tourism and outdoor
recreation along the Staunton River corridor.
"The bridge is the catalyst for a larger tourism effort
in the county using the Staunton River as a centerpiece,"
W.W. "Ted" Bennett said. "If we'd lost the
bridge, there would have been a large piece of the puzzle
Through support from several area corporations, contributions
from individual donors and the cooperation of VDOT Commissioner
Philip Shucet, critical repairs to the span began this week.
But more money is needed to complete the plans for the bridge.
"We still need to raise funds for the bridge repairs,"
Jack Dunavant said. "In addition, we want to put together
a 'Staunton River Summitt' to discuss how the bridge can
fit in with the larger plans for the area.
"We plan to reach out to area citizens, local governments
and non-profit groups to identify points of interest in
the river corridor," he added.
"This could be a year-round tourism draw for the county,"
county Tourism Director Linda Sheppard said.
Clearing one major hurdle in the struggle to save the bridge,
Shucet agreed that VDOT will continue to own and maintain
the bridge if members of the Alliance provide the funds
for the critical repairs to the aging structure.
Costs to repair one of the bridge's support piers, replace
the decking on the bridge and install handrails for pedestrian
use are estimated at more than $500,000, according to Dunavant.
"This challenge, to raise (that amount of money) in
a matter of months, was beyond the reach of local government
and we had to go to the private sector," Bennett said.
Anonymous individual donors provided $225,000 in August
to set up the Clarkton Bridge Fund.
Work on the bridge is expected to take approximately 120
English Construction Company in Lynchburg has offered to
manage the project.
Vulcan Materials is providing stone to construct a causeway
during the construction project and Morgan Lumber in Charlotte
County has offered to identify sources of lumber for the
decking and handrails. In addition, several area trucking
firms have offered to assist in the effort if needed.
While these in-kind contributions have helped to greatly
reduce the cost of the repairs, more than $200,000 is still
Alliance members are in the process of acquiring land on
both the Charlotte and Halifax county sides of the river. (See aerial photo)
"We've signed a contract on 3.3 acres on the Halifax
County side of the river," Bennett said, adding the
land came with a manufactured home on the property. "We
need someone to buy the home and move it by October 29.
"We want to use the land as an overlook and parking
and picnic area," Dunavant said, adding that the Virginia
Department of Conservation and Recreation will assist in
the design and layout of the area.
For more than a year, county residents have joined together
to promote the idea of adapting the bridge as part of a
regional network of walking, bicycling and horseback trails.
Opening ceremonies for the Central Virginia section of the
Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail will be held at Monticello
Following the event, travel writers for national and regional
publications will tour the area.
They are scheduled to stop at the Clarkton Bridge.
For more information or to make a donation contact the Jon
Kukla at the Clarkton Bridge Restoration Fund at 434-376-2044.