RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) -- If you have lived in the Richmond area over the past 60 years, there's a good chance you have driven across the old Huguenot Bridge. Today will be your last chance, because tonight the old bridge will e closed for good and a new bridge will open up along side it 12 hours later.
"I was born the year that the old Huguenot Bridge opened," said resident Susan Edwards.
Sixty-two years later Susan Edwards and her husband James celebrated the completion of the first phase of the new Huguenot Memorial Bridge.
It's been a real exciting thing to watch it develop," said James Edwards.
Friday morning the Edwards biked the mile and a half from their home to see first hand the significance of the structure
"That's what we're celebrating today, the history in our area," said Henrico County Supervisor Patricia O'Bannon.
The old Huguenot Bridge at 62-years-old is showing its age. The structure is covered in rust, with plenty of patches. But the new bridge looks more like a safer way to get across the James River.
"The old bridge would tell the new bridge to stand tall and straight and that it was in the most beautiful location in the Richmond area," said VDOT-Huguenot Bridge Project Manager Ray Johnston.
Twenty months ago, a construction crew took on the dirty work of building the new bridge. On Friday they were applauded for a job well-done.
"I can't say enough about them," said Susan Edwards. "They're fantastic."
Despite the hot temperatures residents, along with state and local leaders were out. to mark the milestone.
"For those of you who are concerned about this heat, I just want to tell you that there is a hotter place someplace else," said Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday officially opened the way for commuters and cyclists on Saturday.
The old Huguenot Bridge will close Friday at 10 p.m. to prepare for the traffic shift to the new bridge by 10 a.m. Saturday, weather permitting.
During the overnight closures, drivers are encouraged to use the following alternate routes:
- Northbound Huguenot Road - Chippenham Parkway (Route 150) north over the Willey Bridge to River Road east to Huguenot Road. Or you are encouraged to use Powhite Parkway (toll) east into Richmond.
- Southbound Huguenot Road - River Road west to Chippenham Parkway (Route 150) south to Huguenot Road.
To view the traffic camera near the Huguenot Road/River Road intersection, northeast of the Huguenot Bridge and to learn about the Huguenot Bridge reconstruction project, click here.
For the latest real-time traffic information or road conditions, call 511 or click here.
The public is invited to bid farewell to the Huguenot Bridge on Sunday, July 1. From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. the public will have the opportunity to walk, bike or picnic on the old bridge.
Ice chests and folding chairs will be permitted on the old bridge. Glass containers and alcohol will not be allowed. VDOT officials also recommend you bring something for shade, due to the expected hot temperatures.
VDOT expects the second half of the new bridge to be completed and open to all travelers in summer 2013 with final completion in October 2013. Once complete, the $54.5 million bridge construction project will have one 12-foot travel lane and one 10-foot shoulder in each direction. The wider shoulder will function as both an emergency breakdown lane and an area for cyclists to safely use the bridge. In addition, there will be a 5-foot wide sidewalk on each side for pedestrians.