Darden Memorial Bridge to reopen early

Published 12:09 pm Friday, October 9, 2015

The Darden Memorial Bridge on Route 35 over the Nottoway River will reopen to traffic at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15 — 15 days ahead of schedule. A bridge opening ceremony and ribbon cutting is set for 4 p.m.

The road has been closed since Jan. 5, as crews worked to replace the 85-year-old, structurally deficient and weight-restricted bridge. The $13 million project widened the roadway with 12-foot travel lanes and 8-foot shoulders, and added a clearance of 26 feet above mean high water to allow for travel underneath.

Although they would not delve into the financial repercussions the bridge closing has had on their businesses, several local business owners shared their enthusiasm for the reopening

“We’re just really excited for it to open,” said Eastern Virginia Bankshares’ Courtland Branch Manager Kim Williams. “It’ll make it easier for people to get to the ATM, and it’s going to look real nice with the lights.”

Madison Edwards of Edwards True Value Hardware echoed that sentiment.

“When it closed, people started going all the way to Franklin instead of going all the way around [the detour]. It was difficult, but we took precautionary measures by having sales, creating a Facebook page and doing other things to keep customers.

“[The bridge opening] will hopefully generate traffic through Courtland, and we’ll be able to get more customers outside of our loyal ones in Capron and Courtland.”

Local business owners and residents are invited to be some of the first to cross the new bridge, and are asked to line up on the south side of the bridge for a ceremonial first ride. Those who would like to attend are asked to RSVP through Simmons by Tuesday, Oct. 13, at laurie.simmons@vdot.virginia.gov or 925-1647.