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New Belmont Bridge to open in June, months behind schedule

Work on the Belmont Bridge in downtown Charlottesville is not expected to be complete until the beginning of summer, about five months behind schedule.

The long-delayed and long-overdue project to replace the 1962-vintage bridge, which began in December 2022, was projected to wrap in January. Officials have now set June 14 as the firm end date.

The delay will provide enough time for the construction crew to complete the final paving and striping on the road, which requires a consistent stretch of high temperatures.

“We are looking forward to completing this project and have it fully opened to the public,” project manager Jeanette Janiczek told The Daily Progress. “The city appreciates everyone’s patience traveling through the area as well as all the surrounding business and residences. While we maintained connectivity during construction, we are excited to share all the new, safer connections over and around the bridge.”

The bridge acts as a primary southern gateway into downtown Charlottesville, carrying Avon Street over the train tracks that service Amtrak’s Cardinal Line as well as CSX and Buckingham Branch rail cargo.

In addition to replacing the bridge carrying vehicular traffic over the railway tracks, crews are also adding a pedestrian walkway, referred to as the “knuckle bridge.” Janiczek confirmed the pedestrian bridge will also open in June. The pedestrian bridge is designed to wrap around the Ting Pavilion at the eastern end of the city’s downtown pedestrian mall, providing a route for pedestrians along the west side of Ninth Street to the Downtown Mall and Downtown Transit Center.

Another pedestrian connection, a tunnel near the bridge’s southern edge, will provide an east-west path terminating near Belmont businesses such as Lampo Neapolitan Pizzeria.

In the final stages of construction, pedestrian traffic has been shifted to the western sidewalk along Ninth and Avon streets. Work is now being done to expand the eastern sidewalk to its final width of 10 feet and add medians to the roadway.

Other work that needs completing includes landscaping, finishing the stormwater basins in the pedestrian plaza on South Street, adding handrails to staircases and reopening Water Street to two-way traffic, said Janiczek. Water Street has been narrowed to a one-way, westbound-only roadway for roughly a year.

Despite the delays, Janiczek said that construction is still on track to stay within the project’s $38.1 million budget.

The work to replace the bridge began in earnest in 2022, a decade past the structure’s original expected lifespan of 50 years. It took several years for the city to find funding to replace the bridge, agree on a design and find a firm to build the new bridge.

Once construction was underway, the project ran into additional obstacles, including the discovery of an unknown underground detention basin.

“The city appreciated the dedication and hard work from our partners — the VDOT, Kimley-Horn, MBP and the Caton Construction Company — in executing their work, raising questions or concerns if a challenge was identified so a high quality piece of infrastructure was built,” Janiczek said.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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