How will Huguenot Bridge construction affect the river below?

By Andrew Freiden - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan – email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A project years in the making will be great for drivers. But construction on the Huguenot Bridge is having a big impact on the James River Park land below.

The area didn't look like a construction zone just a few months ago.  There were a lot of trees here, and a lot of wildlife as all had to go away to make room for an access road as they construct the new Huguenot Bridge.

So what happens to the wildlife during the construction, and what will happen afterwards? For the answer, we went to James River Park manager Ralph White -- a respected voice for river-lovers.

"I'm very supportive of this whole-hearted effort -- let's do it right," White said.

He said VDOT and construction company Skandia listened during the planning process -- and they've been sensitive to wildlife from Day 1. When the trees came down, they kept an eye out for nesting owls, and found none. They are also being kind to humans.

"They are regulating, but not forbidding public access.  In a normal situation, during constructions, everyone is cut off --  see you in 2 years," White said.

But not here -- a fence is going up but a walking path will be open whenever heavy equipment isn't in use.

A stone causeway will be the base for construction -- but its right in the middle of a swampland forest, so large metal pipes will allow water to flow downstream.

White thinks the park will be improved when it's all done. The big reason: Brand new open ponds will be dug where trees once stood. That will make the area more ecologically diverse by creating a brand new open water habitat for frogs, ducks, and insects.

And, the ponds will collect storm water before it has a chance to rush into and pollute the river.

"Softening effects of the flush, and have wildlife benefits in the process," White said.

A lot of thought and planning went into the bridge, and how it'll be better for humans. What will be happening below the bridge will hopefully be better for wildlife as well.

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