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Find out what's happening in the blog. Below is a list of blog items.

Mar 18

Getting a Bridge Built

Posted to City Manager's Blog by Melinda Mayo

What exactly does it take to get a bridge built?  Later this week we will be celebrating the opening of the new Franklin Road Bridge and I thought I would offer some insights into all that goes into getting such a thing constructed.


Everything has its time—even the mightiest mountain will one day be reduced to rubble. So it is with bridges—no matter how well built, a bridge won’t last forever.  In the case of the Franklin Road Bridge, that period of time was just over 80 years.  The bridge opened in 1936, built by our very own Roanoke Bridge Company who built bridges all across the Nation.  This bridge, part of Roosevelt’s New Deal Public Works Act, itself replaced an even earlier bridge built in 1879 which remained in service until 1934.  The cost of the bridge in 1936 was just under $200,000.  Over the years, the increasing numbers of vehicles and trips—at last count the bridge was carrying nearly 10,000 vehicles per day—had taken their toll.  In spite of numerous repairs, the condition of the bridge continued to degrade to a point that further repairs made little economic sense. It was time for a replacement.
Franklin Rd Bridge 1936

FRB EC Kropp 1959

Engineering and Design, Making It Ours

Engineering and design of the new bridge began a couple of years prior to closure of the existing bridge.  From its inception, there was recognition of the significance of the bridge as a vital connector to the neighborhood in the Old Southwest.  This led to a design that protected viewsheds of the surrounding mountains and incorporated elements such as decorative walls and lighting.  In addition to the bridge structure and these aesthetic elements, the Old Southwest Neighborhood, Inc. used a grant from the City to secure the services of artist Tucker Mara.  Panels created by the artist and placed on columns at the ends of the bridge highlight the architectural heritage of the neighborhood.  

04 Reserve Intersection After

Paying for It 

As you can imagine, costs to design and build a bridge have increased a bit since 1936!  The cost of the new bridge was slightly more than $14 million to construct.  The bridge used a variety of sources of funding, including State and local funds.  The majority of the cost is funded by debt issued by the City of Roanoke, which will be paid off over the ensuing decades.  Most large construction projects in the City use similar methods of funding.  The next bridge to be replaced—the Main Street Bridge in the Wasena neighborhood—is projected to cost at least $22 million.  It’s a good thing we need only replace such structures every 80 or so years!

It’s been a hassle, construction always is. The old bridge may be missed by some, but the new bridge will carry traffic right up to the next century, and it will do so in a way that adds aesthetically to the surrounding neighborhoods and compliments the beauty of the surrounding mountains.  Everyone’s patience and hard work has been appreciated. Now it’s time to cut a ribbon and get traffic flowing again!

-- Bob Cowell

Mar 21

Roanoke Recap - March 8

Posted to Roanoke Recap by Melinda Mayo

Published twice a month, Roanoke Recap is a blog to keep citizens informed about recent city news, events, and announcements. If you are reading this blog for the first time and wish to receive an email notification when a new blog is posted, please contact the Office of Communications at

Update on Comprehensive Plan Process

This week, Roanoke City Council received an update on PlanRoanoke, the city’s process to develop a Comprehensive Plan. Through December 2018, the process engaged citizens with 10 open house meetings and a public survey; the input was used to create a Community Response Report. Read the report here.  More open house meetings will be held in March and April, as well as meetings with stakeholder groups and focus groups, followed by the creation of a draft plan. To watch the video of the March 4 Council briefing on this topic, click here to go to the city’s Facebook page. Information about Comprehensive Plan 2020-2040, including dates for future open house meetings, is available here

Getting Ready for E-Scooters

Companies such as Lime and Bird are bringing e-scooters to cities across the country. With the growing popularity of e-scooters, and in anticipation of their arrival in Roanoke, the city’s Planning, Building, and Development Department is developing regulations and rules for their operation. Adding these regulations to the City Code will be a proactive step in managing use of the scooters. The city will work with the companies that provide the scooters to inform the public about the expectations for their use. The video of the March 4 Council briefing on this topic is available on the city’s Facebook page 

Aerial Way Drive Greenway Opens

Citizens, city officials, and greenway users turned out for the Aerial Way Drive Greenway ribbon-cutting on Feb. 28. Funding for this new section of the Roanoke River Greenway came from local sources and VDOT grants, and the hard work of the city’s Engineering Division and Crowder Construction turned this vision into a reality in just 18 months. The blog post, including photos of the ceremony, can be seen here.

Improvements Coming to River’s Edge

As part of Roanoke Parks and Recreation’s Master Plan, River’s Edge will see improvements for multi-generational and inclusive activity with the upgrade of the northern portion of the park that resides on Reserve Avenue. This will be a phased, multi-year process. Read more about the plans for improvements here.