Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Greenway Bridge: It's Ugly, But It's Finally Up
OK, so forget for a moment that the new Roanoke Valley Greenway bridge over the Roanoke River in Wasena Park is one of the monumentally ugly structures of all time. Even more impressive than its level of Army Corps of Engineers Standard Issue design is its price tag of $1 million (half of which the Corps paid, apparently so Roanoke would let it be the designer).
In any case, the bridge linking Vic Thomas Park with the greenway proper is finally complete and the bikers, hikers and double-wide baby carriages can now add another few hundred yards to their exercise routine on the way to what Mayor David Bowers promises will soon be an 11-mile stretch all the way to the Water Treatment Plant in the east and unspoken points west of Memorial Ave.
The bridge was built in the flood plane where water towered 20 feet over where it now sits in 1985, says Bowers. "I'm glad we have a solid, sturdy bridge here," he said when asked why it was so ugly. Liz Belcher, who is the Goddess of the Greenway, explains that "the Corps of Engineers designed it" with a shrug. It is, she says, "part of the flood control project and it is just above the flood level" of 100-year floods.
Artist Eric Fitzpatrick, who was sketching the dedication proceedings at 12:30, smiled when he was asked about aesthetics. "I just love boxy," he smiled.
The bridge leads to what had been an often-flooded trailer park for many years and is now a pretty park named for a former General Assembly member, Vic Thomas, who championed both the outdoors and the common man. When he left the General Assembly about 20 years ago, he left these words, "Don't forget them that don't have nothing." Vic was a humanitarian, not a grammarian, but this sentiment is as elegant as anything ever said by any politician anywhere.