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HOLMBERG: Singing, living under the Mayo Bridge, hearing it ache

Posted at 12:42 AM, Sep 26, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-26 00:42:28-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond's Mayo Bridge is the oldest, most historic river crossing in the area.

Architecturally, it's been compared to the famous Point Neuf bridge in Paris.

But Richmond doesn't know what to do with it's historically registered bridge, which turned 100 last year.

It would cost an estimated $21 million to rehab it and $38 million to replace it.

But for most of it's century, the Mayo bridge (named after the man who built the first bridge there in 1788) has also been a home for hoboes and homeless people. Some have lived in the dry, waterfront haven for years. One guy stayed for a decade.

I recently met Bryce Hines and Dale Kinsey Jr., who have been living there, cleaning the camp up and lamenting about the slow death of the bridge.

Dale, a legally blind busker, says they can hear and see small concrete chunks fall off the bridge when heavily loaded tractor trailers roll over it.

They believe heavy trucks should be detoured to the nearby Manchester Bridge.

"It's ridiculous," Bryce says. "It was built 100 years ago. The heaviest truck they had might've weighed, what, 20,000 pounds. Now you're bringing 85,000 pounds across here."

She said she loves history and finds the visible and audible decline of the arched wonder to be "heartbreaking."

Watch the video of what they've done to Richmond's longest-running homeless campsite.

When I joined them, they had just finished a home-cooked meal of chicken Alfredo, rutabagas, and gourmet percolated coffee.

They're houseless, not homeless, they said.

Broke, but not poor.