Troubled bridge over local water; Bedford bridge gets an upgrade

BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) - In Bedford County, a troubled bridge over local waters is being replaced.

WDBJ7 Photo

One of Virginia's several hundred structurally deficient bridges is set to be rebuilt and, despite a prolonged detour, neighbors tell us they are ready for a change.

"Actually we were looking for some place we could raise a lot of animals and our kids were young," Judy Blair said of her search for a home in 1979. "...We went down to the bridge and also to the river and it was the river that sold us."

Since then, the Blairs have driven over the little bridge over the Big Otter River daily. That bridge is part of Route 644 and a part of the neighborhood history.

"Definitely sentimental attachment," Blair said.

But Thursday was the last day for that.

Virginia's Department of Transportation closed the Route 644 bridge Friday to build a new, two-lane concrete bridge.

"Well mail delivery is going to be interesting," said Blair, looking at her mailbox.

A VDOT crew was on site Thursday, placing signs to remind drivers about the roughly nine-mile detour which should last until November.

"But in the long term it's gonna be a lot better for everybody," said nearby cattle farmer Ted Key.

Key takes this route multiple times a day.

"At least a half a dozen," he estimated.

He is ready to see the bridge, which he says is more than 100 years old, go.

"It should have been done ten years ago, or more," he said.

Decades ago, he says it could hold up to 18 tons. Today the limit is three tons and Key's tractor might be pushing its luck.

"Uhh, it's probably over three tons!" he said chuckling.

This bridge is one of 150 structurally deficient bridges in our region that VDOT is monitoring (Not that it's not save to drive, VDOT officials tell WDBJ7).

But according to Key, it is time for a replacement bridge.

"Yes I am, I'm happy to see it go."

And despite her sentimental attachment, Blair is happy too.

"But I'm looking forward to what they're doing for the future, because yes it was getting to be a worry."

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