If you’ve been to the Floodwall Walk or the Manchester Climbing Wall recently, you probably noticed all the construction going on. When I first saw all the trucks and equipment massing there a couple of months ago, I got my hopes up that this was the start of construction for the Brown’s Island Dam Walk. It turned out all those workers would be fixing up the Manchester Bridge, not building a new link between the north and south banks of the James.
The current Vepco Levy Bridge, where the Brown’s Island Dam Walk will be built from Brown’s Island to Manchester. Credit: Chris Johnson
But it did get me wondering when work on the BIDW will begin. So, I sent an email to the city’s planning department, and they forwarded me to Tammy Hawley, Mayor Dwight Jones’ press secretary. Here’s what she had to say: For now, we hope to have a contractor on board by mid-December. The responses from potential contractors are due back by November 2014. Planning is expecting to get some benchmarks from Procurement, but we don’t have those yet, that will further define the timeline. When we get those benchmarks, we’ll be able to further layout the timeline.
So, while no start date has been set, she went on to clarify that construction should begin no later than the first of the year. That’s pretty exciting news for those of us who’ve followed the Riverfront Plan, and specifically this part of it, for the past few years. Whether that is enough time to complete the bridge before thousands of visitors arrive for the UCI World Cycling Championships in September 2015 is an open question.
And while we’re on the subject of the riverfront, check out these two recent news items on impending projects. A week ago, Graham Moomaw of the Times-Dispatch reported on landscaping and beautification work — a whopping $825,000 worth — that will soon take place between Dock Street and the James River and Kanawha Canal below Tobacco Row. “The project, a public-private partnership led by the beautification group Capital Trees,” Moomaw wrote, “will involve the planting of 117 trees, 475 shrubs, 1,604 ferns and 7,934 perennials, as well as vines and grass, according to a city report.”
And almost directly across the river, NBC 12’s Curtis McCloud reported last week on improvements to Ancarrow’s Landing, with construction just beginning and scheduled to be complete by the end of the year.