Construction of the new Huguenot Bridge at the halfway point and next month you will be driving on a portion of the new bridge.
After 62 years and counting, the old Huguenot Memorial Bridge is on its last leg.
"You can see up there too, where there's some rebar that is exposed and rusted up top," said Ray Johnston, the man hired by VDOT to tear it down and replace it. "The new bridge will be built overtop of the old bridge, but we have to remove the old bridge first. We're essentially standing on half of the new Huguenot."
Johnston took NBC12 cameras into places on the Huguenot you've never seen — its crumbling underbelly, with cracked concrete and metal so rusted its peeling.
"I've talked to a lot of citizens while building the new bridge and haven't had a one that said we don't need to replace the Huguenot," said Johnston.
Built in 1949, the bridge was named for the french Huguenot settlers who came to the area in the 18th century to escape religious persecution in France. Of all the bridge's features, it's the guardrails people seemed to enjoy most.
"People love them, I especially like them because you can see through the rail," said Johnston.
But the rails do not meet federal standards.
"We had one car recently hit it and it held, but it didn't hold by much," added Johnston.
And they won't be carried over to the new design. The first half of the new bridge is almost finished.
Traffic will moved here in July. Then the old bridge will be torn down.
When all is said and done, the new bridge will have 5-foot sidewalks, 10-foot shoulders for bicyclists and broken down vehicles, and 12-foot travels lanes.
No more too-close-for-comfort rides with cars and cyclists trying to share the bridge. We're still about a year away though, from the full bridge opening.
The tear down of the old bridge and construction of the other half will begin this July.
VDOT is planning a festive sendoff for the old bridge. It will be closed to traffic and opened to the public for the day. No date has been set, but it should be held next month.
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