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What’s the future of the Mayo Bridge? Community leaders stress creativity

The Manchester Alliance and Shockoe Partnership brought together city leaders and stakeholders to discuss the future of the to-be-replaced bridge

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Pedestrian and cyclist access to the bridge was a popular talking point.

Photo by RICtoday

The Mayo Bridge needs to be replaced, according to VDOT. For the Manchester Alliance and Shockoe Partnership, that means opportunity.

The neighborhood groups hosted a community meeting on Monday, May 20 in partnership with Bike Walk RVA. Over 200 people had registered to attend the free event at Studio Two Three.

City leaders, engineers, and other stakeholders spoke to the opportunities presented by the bridge’s replacement, which has been a long time coming. After the speakers concluded, attendees were asked to peruse several poster boards and tables and leave initial feedback.

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The new bridge could be built on the same site or have a different path than the old bridge.

Photo by RICtoday

Dr. John Kim, a city bridge engineer, spoke to VDOT’s process. Initially, the department thought the historic bridge would only require rehabilitation. Then it shifted to replacing the superstructure — then the entire bridge.

“With that, we have many options ahead of us,” Kim said.

City CAO Lincoln Saunders addressed the bridge replacement in relation to the city’s recent acquisition of Mayo Island. He also pointed to the soon-to-open Dock Street Park, Tredegar amphitheater, and Brown’s Island improvements as evidence of the city’s commitment to the James.

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Ted Elmore of BridgePark compared the future Mayo Bridge to projects like the High Line in New York City.

Photo by RICtoday

Monday’s meeting came before the start of the official design process. Brantley Tyndall, director of Bike Walk RVA, stressed that the timing was intentional.

“Let’s think about what we actually want to accomplish without being constrained,” Tyndall said. “We’re trying to talk about what this bridge can be before decisions are made.”

At the meeting, attendees were invited to share thoughts on possible multi-modal connections the future bridge could offer — think the Fall Line Trail — as well as opportunities for riverfront access through Mayo Island and unique architecture and design possibilities.

A VDOT traffic study is in the works, and a survey is open to collect information on how Richmonders use the current bridge. Citizen input in the official design process will come later this summer or in the fall.