Notes from “Envisioning a Livable Mayo Bridge”

May 21, 2024 | by

We couldn’t make it out to the forum last night on the future of the Mayo Bridge hosted by the Manchester Alliance and Shockoe Partnership – but we do have some notes by Cezar Carvalhaes. (& image up top shamelessly stolen from BikeWalk RVA).

Envisioning a Livable Mayo Bridge

FUN FACT: Keeping the bridge open and toll free was a condition of Manchester’s annexation.

: :

Manchester Alliance and Shockoe Partnership

What the bridge SHOULD be:

  • Designed with neighborhood stakeholders at the forefront
  • Safe, inviting, and pleasant access to the new Mayo Island Park
  • Highlight the presence and importance of the Richmond Slave Trail )and inclusive of additional signage for the slave trade
  • Pedestrian, bike, recreational, and local traffic community connector between neighborhoods that complete the “Loop” which includes: the T-Pot bridge, Canal Walk and the Floodwall walkway
  • As an iconic structure that respects the Bridge’s historic legacy and will be an attraction drawing visitors to downtown, the Riverfront, and the James River Park System
  • One lane in each in direction with the balance of the bridge width available for pedestrians, bikes, and recreational uses
  • Built at a reduced cost because of the design for less traffic and thus less weight
  • Built so the users of the Bridge can see and experience the James River while on the bridge (not just at the railing)

What the Mayo Bridge should NOT be:

  • Designed for heavy traffic and big trucks
  • Designed behind closed doors 
  • A higher speed commuter roadway for commuters to get in and out of the city
  • A utilitarian 4-lane highway structure designed for an ever-increasing volume of traffic
  • A primary traffic thoroughfare nor a route used by heavy trucks

: :

City Presentation (CAO Lincoln Saunders)

  • Celebrated the city’s acquisition of Mayo Island
  • Celebrated $30M for Brown’s Island improvements (no specifics though)
  • Original bridge pilings/piers will not be able to be reused, increasing cost and scope of the project
  • Final design is still far away
  • Wants to address bike/ped safety issues that are well known on current bridge

Dr. Kim (Bridge Expert)

  • VDOT found a series of defects in the concrete pilings/piers
  • They have about a 25 year left life expectancy, whereas a new superstructure would have 75-100 year expectancy 
  • VDOT revised their plan to fully replace the bridge and underlying substructure

Dr. Ellen Robertson (6th District City Council)

  • Noted Manchester’s massive population growth and lack of infrastructure thereof. Not enough sidewalks, green space, etc
  • It’s important to factor in future population growth into development and zoning plans
  • Thankful for this event where our community can be part of the planning 
  • Believes the “demands” put forward by the Manchester Alliance and Shockoe Partnership will be transformational
  • “Everybody needs to be able to get to the park [(Mayo Island Park)], and the park is on BOTH sides of the bridge”
  • Don’t be blindsided by the constant entertainment and attraction this bridge + park will bring
  • Design needs to account for accessibility
  • Think of it as an extension of the park that’s lives on both sides of the bridge
  • “I guarantee that you will be heard, listened to, all partners will be heard, and our minds will be open” 
  • There will be community meetings throughout the process

Brantley Tyndall (Director of Bike Walk RVA)

  • We’re going to make this bridge awesome
  • (Showed Nickel bridge’s pedestrian walk  as an example of not getting right the first time)
  • VDOT was not invited to this: partly because of the constraints VDOT brings to conversation. This is for visioning, not a feasibility study.
  • Expect a public hearing in the Fall
  • Engagement should happen FIRST. Not after a concept or partial plan is in place
  • A bridge traffic study is planned for next month. Measures cars, rarely people biking and walking

Ted Elmore (BridgePark Foundation)

  • Bridges should bring us closer to the things and people we love
  • Sits on the Steering Committee for the High Line
  • Book: Embedding Equity in Public Space
  • What’s a bridge have to do with equity? Bridges were used to divide us. Redlining, segregation, etc. Now we can undo some of that by imposing inclusive values in our own infrastructure to connect us
  • Showed pics of different bridges (historic, car-centric, ped-centric, park bridge). One of note: 11th St Bridge Park connecting Anacostia neighborhood  of DC 

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