Editor’s note: The fall and winter are the lower usage times for trails in Central Virginia, and thus are when most of the trail building and rebuilding take place. This is the first in a seasonal series on the trail work projects taking place in the region.
If you’ve run, biked, walked your dog, or otherwise traversed Richmond’s North bank Trail in the past few days, you’ve probably noticed a gleaming new wooden bridge spanning the small gulley near the trail’s eastern end. (The area in question is where the flat gravel trail meets a steep, rocky section behind the Dominion headquarters. It’s the first bridge heading west from downtown.)
City trails manager Mike Burton said he and his crew had originally hoped to keep some of the structure intact and repurpose other pieces. They realized that wasn’t possible once they removed a few boards and stringers.
“We were able to just push the entire frame over,” he said.
The bridge was as old as the North Bank Trail itself — more than a decade — and was built entirely by volunteers. It saw tons of traffic, as the James River Park System trail usage has exploded in recent years, but it was becoming a danger.
Burton said they spent about $1,800 on materials to rebuild the structure. Some of that money came from mountain bike/trail building club RVA MORE, and some came from the Sports Backers’ James River Park Fund, which racers are prompted to give to when they sign up for some Riverrock events and the SB’s Trails and Ales.
Burton said the bridge is “real similar” to the old one in terms of how users enter and exit it. The line hasn’t really changed, just the structural integrity.
North Bank was closed for a few days while the work was completed, but it’s back open now. Next up for Burton, Andrew Alli and the rest of the trail crew: completing the already-in-progress jump park in Gillies Creek Park next to the BMX racecourse.