Belle Isle emergency access bridge closed

By Jola Szubielski - bio | email

Posted by Colby Rogers

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Work is underway to fix part of the Belle Isle bridge used for emergency vehicles and with the days getting warmer, first responders will have to use alternative routes for rescue.

The bridge was deemed unsafe and closed to all traffic in January after the city's Dept. of Public Works discovered faulty joints.

Work on the bridge is expected to take as long as two and a half months to complete, limiting access for emergency vehicles until well after the unofficial start of the summer.

With the vehicle bridge closed for repairs, first responders will now have to look for alternative emergency access as they prepare for the seasonal influx of visitors.

"We're talking with all the agencies," said Richmond Fire and EMS Capt. Keith Vida. "Rec and Parks, Richmond Ambulance, Medflight - all the agencies are talking about what we're going to do. We want to have a plan in action and ready to go in case anyone gets hurt."

Crews typically use the footbridge to get onto Belle Isle, but use the vehicle bridge to leave.

With that option no longer a possibility, Vida says there may be a delay in transport in the event of an emergency.

Emergency crews and the City are warning residents to use extra caution when enjoying the natural setting of the island.

"The main thing is just be safe," Vida said. "A lot of people do not estimate what the rocks are like.  We have a lot of falls, leg injuries, a lot of ankle injuries - and that's just everyday. Think about what you're doing. Determine if the risk is worth what you're doing."

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