Debris which accumultes (left in photo) at the hydraulic openings in the Wiley Drive low-water bridge in Wasena Park after almost any rain is a significant problem that a new bridge should help alleviate^
UPDATED OCT. 7
Those of you who use Wiley Drive in Wasena Park for exercise are in for yet another adjustment to your schedule. The low-water bridge, built by contractor Wiley Jackson many years ago in order to take his construction debris to a dump in what was to become the park, will undergo a reconstruction and will be out of service until March.
The park was down for about a year recently when flood control measures were taken.
Beginning on Monday, Oct. 12, construction crews will begin replacing the Wiley Drive low-water bridge. There was no word from the City of Roanoke whether the proposed greenway bridge just west of the low water bridge would be constructed during the down time. The bridge will be for pedestrians and bikers and will connect with the former mobile home park on the other side of the river.
The cost of the project is $850,000, of which $750 will be paid for by the USDA, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Fish America Foundation. Only one of the two low-water bridges will be replaced, says City Engineer Luke Pugh. The second bridge, at the center of Wiley Drive, does not limit fish passage and was not eligible for a grant. Pugh also says automobile traffic into the park will be stopped during the work. The traffic lane in the park will be closed until March.
The bridge will split access to the park in half. Wasena will be accessible from the Memorial Bridge end of the park and Smith Park will be accessible from the River's Edge end of the park. Essentially, three parks are connected by Wiley Drive.
The purpose of the low-water bridge project, according to a city news release, is to promote wildlife biodiversity along the Roanoke River through fish passage restoration. The new bridge will eliminate the concrete bottom and create a mud line for fish to progress up and downstream.
The bridge will also be constructed with larger hydraulic openings to minimize its footprint within the water. Funding is from the United States Department of Agriculture, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Fish America Foundation. For more information, please contact Luke Pugh at 853-5208.