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Wasena Bridge Replacement Project To Begin This Spring

After 85 years of service, the Wasena Bridge will soon be replaced by a new structure that will not only continue to safely transport vehicles, but also will allow pedestrians and bicyclists safe commuting between neighborhoods and to the Roanoke River Greenway.

The project will begin in early April, with road detours following soon after. The demolition of the current bridge will start in early May on the south end in Wasena and take about six months to fully remove. The new bridge should be completed—along with landscaping enhancements to the surrounding areas—by Spring 2026.

“The current bridge was built in 1939 and is past its prime,” according to Josephus Johnson-Koroma, civil engineer II for the City of Roanoke and manager of the project. “The new bridge will not only be aesthetically pleasing, but, more importantly, it will improve safety for vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Safety is the most important thing.”

According to Johnson-Koroma, the new bridge will feature designated bike lanes, wider sidewalks, improved LED lighting both on top and under the bridge, and a roundabout on northern side to improve traffic flow. Further enhancements will include four “lookout” seating areas for travelers to rest and take in the views, as well as enhanced landscaping and tree plantings.

The cost of the project is $50.3 million, of which $41.8 million was recently awarded in a construction contract to Archer Western Construction, LLC. The remaining expenses include engineering plans, land acquisition, railroad flagging services, and other related costs.

“We are extremely excited to team with the City of Roanoke, the surrounding communities, businesses and many stakeholders to build the new Wasena Bridge,” said Dave Johnson, Archer Western project exeuctive. “Once constructed, the Wasena Bridge will be a beautiful connection for the Wasena community and the City of Roanoke for years to come.”

While a detailed timeline for the project is still being developed by Archer Western, the City is planning toward a groundbreaking ceremony in mid-February and a “Wasena Bridge is Coming Down” party for the community in mid-March.

“While this much-needed investment is critical to our overall transportation network, we are well aware of the impact its construction will have on adjacent residences and businesses,” City Manager Bob Cowell said. “It is for this reason the City has for a number of years involved the community in the design of the bridge and continues to communicate with surrounding residents and businesses about the timing of the project and ways to ensure safe movement to and from the surrounding neighborhoods and business areas. We want to celebrate this project and, with it, promote activities that will continue to support the vitality of the businesses in proximity to the bridge.”

Other notes of interest related to the bridge replacement project:

Roanoke River Greenway: This pedestrian and bicycle throughway will remain open throughout the bridge replacement project with a fully signed detour around Wasena Park via Winchester Avenue, Main Street, Winona Avenue, and Wiley Drive.

Local Residents: Vehicular detours during the bridge closure will inevitably impact services such as school transportation, solid waste removal, and public transportation. City departments are already working together on these issues to be sure services remain accessible. Details about adjustments will be communicated to residents closer to the project start date.

Local Businesses: In response to the potential impact of vehicular detours during the bridge closure, the City will be executing a “Ways to Wasena” campaign designed to boost consumer interest and drive traffic to Wasena businesses.

Parks and Recreation: During the bridge replacement project, a new Skatepark (expected to begin construction Fall 2024) will be built in the approximate location of the current tennis and basketball courts at Wasena Park. Meanwhile the construction of the In-River Park (expected to begin in early 2025) will impact user access to the Roanoke River in various locations from under Memorial Bridge to Smith Park.

“Because Parks and Recreation construction projects are operating on a very similar timeline to the bridge replacement, the City does not anticipate major impacts to the user experience,” said Katie Slusher, Parks and Recreation planning coordinator. “Updates will be shared frequently on closures and openings via social media and City of Roanoke communications channels.”

The City also plans to transform the area under the bridge along Winchester Avenue, currently used as a parking lot, into green space. Wasena Park’s 100-space parking lot — the largest parking lot of any City park — will serve visitors with a landscaped plaza connection planned between Winchester Avenue SW and the Wasena Village businesses on Main Street.

To follow progress and get updates on the Wasena Bridge Replacement Project, visit:

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