LOUISA, VA (WWBT) - The long-anticipated opening of the new Parsons Road Bridge has happened and people on either side of the Hanover-Louisa line are thrilled.
The Virginia Department of Transportation delivered what it promised -- a stronger concrete structure.
For 11 months, there was a gaping hole in the crumbled two-lane bridge, severely damaged by heavy rains about a year ago. Residents credit 12 On Your Side for giving them a voice so people in Louisa were not forgotten.
The new and improved Parsons Road Bridge had been closed to traffic for almost a year. It's a big deal for those residents who were not only inconvenienced by the closure, but were also worried sick about their safety.
The new bridge is concrete and a heavier structure VDOT says is designed to withstand heavy rain. This one won't wash out like the old two lane wooden bridge did.
They expect it to be around a long time.
"I'm glad it's fixed. I know that," said Robyn Smith, who was out on the newly built bridge over Locust Creek. Smith was one of the residents who ramped up the pressure on
VDOT to get busy and give them back their bridge.
"The residents over here had a lot of grief because even farmers had to go way out of their way to get to where they had to go, and this was such a shortcut. It was just awful for everyone," she said.
VDOT acknowledged the delays, and said they were due to environmental permits. Leery residents believed their concerns were just being dismissed. They felt VDOT didn't think the bridge was all that importantbecausee 20,000 people weren't impacted by its closure.
It's easier now. "Much easier, much easier," Smith said. "I have family that lives over here, and I'm like five minutes away from them When Iwass 20 to 25 minutes away. So yes, It's going to be much easier."
Smith said she asked the county why it took so long to repair the bridge. "I didn't get any response," she said. "That's when I called 12 On My Side. I'm very glad I called 12. You guys are excellent."
The new bridge reconnects the community and ends what neighbors called an expensive detour that put some residents at risk. Residents claimed eight families were disconnected from emergency response providers while the old bridge was closed. Fortunately, there were no problems reported during the 11 months the bridge was closed.
Smith said they would still be waiting if NBC12 had not told her story.
VDOT said its plan all along was to tear down the old bridge and build a better one. It said residents' safety was the main concern. VDOT said it will complete more permanent resurfacing in the spring.