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South Boston News
Clarkton Bridge / August 27, 2018
Targeted for demolition for two decades, historic Clarkton Bridge is finally coming down.

The dismantling of the 117-year-old span over the Staunton River will take place starting in September, with the work expected to be complete by the end of January, according to Paula Jones, VDOT Lynchburg District communications manager.

VDOT has awarded a $503,763 contract to the Joseph B. Fay Company of Glen Burnie, Md., for the demolition of the bridge, which was built in 1901 and remained open for traffic until 1998, when the highway department deemed it unsafe for motor vehicleS.

The proposed demolition of Clarkton Bridge spurred the formation of the Clarkton Bridge Alliance, a group of citizens in Halifax and Charlotte counties who challenged VDOT to save the historic structure. The group successfully raised money to stabilize the bridge and it reopened in 2005 as a pedestrian-only thruway.

Even then, Clarkton Bridge was one of the few remaining iron truss bridges left standing in Virginia.

Clarkton Bridge was popular for strolling and hiking and was identified as part of the Tobacco Heritage Trail system, which is envisioned to eventually link multiple counties in southern Virginia, but its continued deterioration prompted VDOT to close the structure again to pedestrian traffic following a 2015 inspection.

The bridge’s fate was sealed when private groups and local governments were unable or unwilling to raise the millions of dollars required to allay VDOT’s concerns that it posed a safety hazard, including to paddlers passing underneath on the Staunton River.

Jones said bids for the demolition of Clarkton Bridge had been sought back in May and the competitive bid was awarded in mid-July to Joseph B. Fay Company.

It will take months for the work to be completed, although VDOT expects the bridge tio be removed by the end of January.

“They’re not just going to drop the bridge into the river,” she said.

VDOT has been working with preservation groups to salvage portions of the distinctive span, to be donated to public libraries or museums or another public entity.

Governing bodies in the counties of Charlotte and Halifax have approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with VDOT calling for portions of the bridge to be saved for later use.

In March, when Halifax County supervisors approved the MOU, Kenneth Martin of VDOT told members that the historic old bridge is in such terrible condition that people cannot safely step foot on it. The bridge has outlived its useful life, Martin said, and once it comes down, interpretative signs will be placed at the site.

Tony Opperman, VDOT’s cultural resource program manager, estimated that it would cost $7 to $8 million to repair the bridge while it would take at least $10 million to replace it, money which he explained VDOT does not have to spare for Clarkton Bridge

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Targeted for demotion...? Did you mean DEMOLITION?!

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