Bridge to open on Monday

Published 9:44 am Saturday, June 13, 2009

FRANKLIN—The new bridge over the Blackwater River will be open to traffic on Monday, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

VDOT spokesperson Nora Jump-Scott said the bridge, which connects downtown Franklin and Isle of Wight County, would have one lane of traffic open in each direction on Monday.

Jump-Scott said the speed limit on the bridge would remain at 25 miles per hour, and the construction crew on-site “anticipates moving traffic from the existing two lanes that are being used (on the old bridge) to the new bridge. This change will be made during the day, and they will use temporary striping to mark the lanes.”

She added that if there was advsere weather on Monday there would be a delay in opening the new bridge because the temporary striping would not be able to be installed.

“Traffic will stay in this two-lane operation for about seven weeks while they expand the two eastbound and the two westbound lanes,” Jump-Scott said. The project would be completed in early August, she said.

The bridge carries U.S. Routes 258 and 58 Business over the Blackwater River. The road is called Second Avenue on the Franklin side of the river, but it becomes Carrsville Highway after crossing into Isle of Wight County.

The new span across the Blackwater is just north of the current bridge, which VDOT plans to demolish sometime after the new bridge opens. Jump-Scott said there was no timetable for the older bridge’s demolition.

In August, the bridge will officially be named the Holland-Councill Memorial Bridge, after two local political figures: Richard J. Holland Sr. and James Paul Councill Jr.

Holland served in the state Senate, and represented the 15th District from 1980 to 2000. Councill was a former member of the Southampton County Board of Supervisors, and served in the House of Delegates, representing the 75th District for 32 years after being first elected in 1974.

The state General Assembly unanimously adopted two bills naming the bridge earlier this year. Del. Roslyn Tyler (D–Jarratt) introduced HB1713, which passed on Feb 18. Sen. Louise Lucas’ (D–Portsmouth) bill, SB802, passed the Senate on Jan. 28.

Isle of Wight County Supervisor Phillip Bradshaw said a ribbon-cutting ceremony would be held in August when the bridge officially opens. The bridge will be dedicated to Holland and Councill at that ceremony, Bradshaw said.