Deadlines, Guidelines and Digital Submissions
Award Winning Newspaper
COMPLETION Workers were busy yesterday putting
the last of the decking and pedestrian handrails on the Clarkton
Bridge. VDOT officials said yesterday that work on the historic
span should be completed this month, with an opening celebration
scheduled for the fall. (G-V Photo/Keith Strange)
Face Of A Historic Span
Clarkton Bridge Repairs Almost Complete
Repairs that supporters hope will turn the aging Clarkton Bridge
into a tourist destination are nearing completion, according to
VDOT Assistant Resident Engineer Zack Weddle.
Weddle said yesterday that work should be completed this month,
if we dont get much of a weather delay.
Repairs are about 80 percent complete, he said.
For the last several weeks we have been re-decking the entire
structure with wood decking and installing a pedestrian handrail,"Weddle
We have also been replacing some of the guardrail on the
existing access road with a wooden fence to protect pedestrians,"he
Once the decking and rails are complete, VDOT will put the finishing
touches"on each end of the bridge.
We need to put some things there to prevent vehicle access
and we also will work to provide parking on the Halifax County
He added that an opening ceremony is in the planning stages.
We are planning to work with the Clarkton Bridge Alliance
to set the ceremony for sometime in the fall,"Weddle said.
After a long and sometimes bitter battle between the Clarkton
Bridge Alliance formed to protest the planned closure of
the century-old structure and former VDOT Commissioner
Phillip Shucet, Weddle said he was pleased to see the groups working
together to preserve the bridge.
I think this has been a collaborative effort between (Charlotte
and Halifax) counties, VDOT and the Alliance, and were glad
we could come to this point where people will be able to get together
and enjoy nature,"Weddle said. It really is a nice
Built in 1901, Clarkton Bridge spans the Staunton River between
Charlotte and Halifax counties.
It was closed in 1998 due to safety concerns.
In 2003, the Clarkton Bridge Alliance was given the opportunity
to find a suitable owner, delaying the awarding of a demolition
contract for the bridge.
But in a letter to members of the Alliance in early June, 2004,
then-Transportation Secretary Whitt Clement said the department
had tried to cooperate with the Alliance but, citing safety and
liability issues, time had run out.
Demolition began shortly thereafter, but was put on hold as a
one-week reprieve was offered to spare the structure. The bridge
was subsequently spared as an agreement was reached between VDOT
and the Alliance.
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 shortly after the bridge was spared.
If wed lost the bridge, there would have been a large
piece of the puzzle missing.
Bennett said that despite the initial controversy over the bridge,
the working relationship between the Alliance and VDOT couldnt
have been better as construction progressed.
The former VDOT commissioner (Shucet) and VDOT couldnt
have been more helpful, understanding and accommodating in agreeing
to save the bridge, and even went farther than that in agreeing
to keep the bridge in the state system,"he said. That
means that the costs for all future repairs and maintenance will
be borne by VDOT."
Through support from several area corporations, contributions
from individual donors and the cooperation of Shucet, critical
repairs to the span began in late September, 2004.
Bennett said that most of the repairs and materials were provided
at much below"cost.
Proponents of saving the bridge say the structure could be an
economic engine by promoting tourism and could be a part of planned
birding and heritage tourism efforts.
It has been designated a stop on Virginias Birding and Wildlife
Trail and is eligible for listing on the National Register of