ROANOKE, Va (WDBJ7) Take a walk on Wasena Bridge, and problems are hard to miss. The bike lanes and sidewalks are narrow. In places, there's more rust than paint. It's a structure waiting for a replacement, and soon, it's going to get one.
"We were tasked with doing a unique, signature-style bridge," said Chad Thomas, head of structural division at Mattern and Craig, the company brought in to design the new structure.
Thursday night, Thomas helped unveil the new bridge design. The structure will be held up with modern, Y-shaped pillars, designed to be cost-effective and easy to build. Up top, viewing decks will be added at both ends, and bike lanes and sidewalks have been expanded, making it easier to cross the bridge on foot or on bike.
"We wanted to make sure we gave the communities the ability to do that, and make them feel safe while they're on the bridge," said Thomas.
Those are changes Steve Villers is excited to see.
"It's a little difficult to walk from the area, and biking's a little difficult," he said.
Villers ownes The Hive Tasting Room in Wasena Village. While he likes some of the changes unveiled Thursday, he's still worried about what closing the bridge for construction could do to his business.
"Just because having that shut down for, what? A year and a half or whatever? It's going to really reduce car traffic."
Next door at R&D Coffee, co-owner Quincy Randolph has definitely heard those concerns.
"People are really worried it's going to affect our business," he said.
But Randolph sees this as an opportunity.
"You know, we almost imagine it will create more of a cul-de-sac kind of atmosphere, in that, you know, people in the community will have more reason to not just come out in Wasena, but stay in Wasena and check out more of the local businesses," he said.
According to Chad Thomas, this isn't the final design for the bridge. A more detailed model version will be put together before construction begins in 2022.
"Hopefully when the project's done, we're gonna see a great benefit out of the bridge there," said Thomas.
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