A new pedestrian bridge was installed along Danville’s Riverwalk Trail last week, but it is still several weeks away from being accessible.
The bridge, made of steel with a concrete walking path, was stationed over Fall Creek and replaces the bridge that washed away in the Dan River during Tropical Storm Michael in 2018. That bridge was made of steel as well but had a wooden deck.
The change in building materials is meant to prevent the new bridge from meeting a similar fate as its predecessor.
“The main thing is it’s much heavier,” said Bill Sgrinia, the director of Danville Parks & Recreation. “It’s fastened pretty much the same way but may be a little more sturdy.”
The bridge cost $98,000, Sgrinia said, and the installation of the bridge — including the building of an access point for cranes used during the installation — came out to be $429,000.
The path leading to the bridge still needs some work, though.
That section of the path was damaged during flooding of the Dan River in February, but it was the flooding in May that truly put the path out of commission.
“This time with the railroad trestle bridge backed up [with debris], it just took the whole trail out,” Sgrinia said. “It channeled all the water around both sides of the bridge [and onto the path].”
Sgrinia said the plan moving forward is to reroute the trail to higher ground, closer to River Street, making it less likely to be disrupted by future flooding. He said work crews will cut a new path and lay down gravel sometime in the next four to five weeks.
There is no timetable yet for when that gravel trail might be paved.
“Paving contractors this time of year are pretty busy, so we don’t know when a paving contractor will get there to get it paved,” Sgrinia said. “But we’d hope it’s within a reasonable amount of time.”
Regular visitors to the Riverwalk Trail are already anticipating that section being available once again.
“It would give us more variety, something else to look at while walking, to see a different section of the river,” said Lisa Hiatt, who spent her lunch break Thursday walking with a friend.
A paralegal at Haymore & Holland, Hiatt said that portion of the trail being available would also provide more shade for walkers on hot days.
“I stay with the shade as much as I can because I have to go back to work,” she said.
Laurie Taylor, a nurse practitioner at the CareTeam Clinic on Bridge Street, tries to make use of the Riverwalk Trail several days per week. She was out on a lunchtime walk also on Thursday.
Her route took her across the pedestrian train trestle bridge and then up to the gates underneath the Norfolk Southern bridge, which forced her to turn around.
“I’d like to go up that way, but I noticed they still had the barricade up under the bridge and it looked like there was still some path work being done,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it [opening] a lot because it’s nice to have different scenery.”
Parker Cotton is a sports reporter at the Martinsville Bulletin and Danville Register & Bee. You can reach him at (276) 638-8801 ext. 215. Follow @ByParkerCotton.
Get local news delivered to your inbox!
Subscribe to our Daily Headlines newsletter.