Replacing Reno's Virginia Street Bridge
New Virginia Street Bridge is Open
Virginia Street Bridge Ribbon-Cutting - Tuesday, April 12, 2016, 11 a.m. The public is invited to join in the official opening of the new bridge. Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve will lead the ceremony along with other guest speakers. A procession of transportation history will cross the new bridge. It will feature vehicles covering the era during which the old bridge served Reno, with a world champion mule team, several historic vehicles from the National Automobile Museum and a modern Tesla. There will also be a performance from the Reno Wind Symphony. The bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic for the remainder of the day.
New Virginia Street Bridge across the Truckee River
The Virginia Street Bridge, built in 1905, is the latest in a series of spans that have carried traffic over the Truckee River at this spot since 1860. Like all those before it, the useful life of this bridge is coming to an end.
The project to demolish the old bridge and erect a new one is well under way. In February, 2015, crews began re-routing utility lines that used the bridge to cross the Truckee River. Later in 2015, when all necessary permits are in place, work to demolish the old bridge and begin erecting its replacement will get started. The project is estimated to take 12 to 15 months to complete.
Get More Information about the Virginia Street Bridge Replacement
This big project will affect most everyone in the Reno area in one way or another. Fortunately, a website dedicated to making information readily accessible has been created - "Virginia Street Bridge Project." Links to main sections on the site are provided below, but you can learn even more by visiting the site.
At 110 years old, the Virginia Street Bridge is crumbling. It was determined that trying to repair it was not feasible and that a primary goal, improving flood control, could not be accomplished without removing the double arched bridge and replacing it with a modern structure that will not cause the Truckee River to back up and flood downtown Reno during times of extraordinary high water flows. This has actually happened several times over the years, including the devastating flood of 1997 and a significant event in 2005.
For more information about flooding along the Truckee River and things that are being done to help lessen the threat and improve the river corridor, refer to "Truckee River Flood Project."
History of the Virginia Street Bridge
During the heyday of Reno's divorce trade, the Virginia Street Bridge became literally world famous as the place where new divorcees would throw their wedding rings into the Truckee River after their divorces were finalized at the nearby Washoe County Courthouse. This procedure was even depicted in a couple of movies, but any proof that anyone really did this is pretty sketchy. It's a fun story, though.
The Virginia Street Bridge did, however, become a well recognized symbol of the growing city of Reno. It also came to be seen as a piece of Reno's history and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Alas, even concrete doesn't last forever when subjected to constant, and sometimes violent, pounding from flowing water. After a flood in 2005 severely damaged the bridge's foundation, studies showed the cost of preserving it to be prohibitive when compared to replacement with a new structure.
For more details on the interesting history of the Virginia Street Bridge, refer to these sources...
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