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Find out what's happening in the blog. Below is a list of blog items.

Mar 18

Getting a Bridge Built

Posted to City Manager's Blog by Melinda Mayo

What exactly does it take to get a bridge built?  Later this week we will be celebrating the opening of the new Franklin Road Bridge and I thought I would offer some insights into all that goes into getting such a thing constructed.


Everything has its time—even the mightiest mountain will one day be reduced to rubble. So it is with bridges—no matter how well built, a bridge won’t last forever.  In the case of the Franklin Road Bridge, that period of time was just over 80 years.  The bridge opened in 1936, built by our very own Roanoke Bridge Company who built bridges all across the Nation.  This bridge, part of Roosevelt’s New Deal Public Works Act, itself replaced an even earlier bridge built in 1879 which remained in service until 1934.  The cost of the bridge in 1936 was just under $200,000.  Over the years, the increasing numbers of vehicles and trips—at last count the bridge was carrying nearly 10,000 vehicles per day—had taken their toll.  In spite of numerous repairs, the condition of the bridge continued to degrade to a point that further repairs made little economic sense. It was time for a replacement.
Franklin Rd Bridge 1936

FRB EC Kropp 1959

Engineering and Design, Making It Ours

Engineering and design of the new bridge began a couple of years prior to closure of the existing bridge.  From its inception, there was recognition of the significance of the bridge as a vital connector to the neighborhood in the Old Southwest.  This led to a design that protected viewsheds of the surrounding mountains and incorporated elements such as decorative walls and lighting.  In addition to the bridge structure and these aesthetic elements, the Old Southwest Neighborhood, Inc. used a grant from the City to secure the services of artist Tucker Mara.  Panels created by the artist and placed on columns at the ends of the bridge highlight the architectural heritage of the neighborhood.  

04 Reserve Intersection After

Paying for It 

As you can imagine, costs to design and build a bridge have increased a bit since 1936!  The cost of the new bridge was slightly more than $14 million to construct.  The bridge used a variety of sources of funding, including State and local funds.  The majority of the cost is funded by debt issued by the City of Roanoke, which will be paid off over the ensuing decades.  Most large construction projects in the City use similar methods of funding.  The next bridge to be replaced—the Main Street Bridge in the Wasena neighborhood—is projected to cost at least $22 million.  It’s a good thing we need only replace such structures every 80 or so years!

It’s been a hassle, construction always is. The old bridge may be missed by some, but the new bridge will carry traffic right up to the next century, and it will do so in a way that adds aesthetically to the surrounding neighborhoods and compliments the beauty of the surrounding mountains.  Everyone’s patience and hard work has been appreciated. Now it’s time to cut a ribbon and get traffic flowing again!

-- Bob Cowell

Mar 22

Roanoke Recap - March 22

Posted to Roanoke Recap by Melinda Mayo

Published twice a month, Roanoke Recap is a blog to keep citizens informed about recent city news, events, and announcements. If you are reading this blog for the first time and wish to receive an email notification when a new blog is posted, please contact the Office of Communications at

Kiwanis to Gift Playground to City of Roanoke

At the March 18 City Council meeting, the Kiwanis Club of Roanoke gave an overview to City Council of their plans for Centennial Playground—their proposed project in the Melrose-Orange Target Area, adjacent to the Goodwill Campus on Melrose Avenue. The club wants to partner with other organizations and neighbors to create a gathering place for all ages. Kiwanis’ goal is to raise $400,000 for the equipment and land preparation, and will also apply for CDBG grant funds to help with costs. The project will include play equipment to accommodate physically challenged children, as well as exercise equipment for adults and teenagers. Kiwanis will gift the playground to the city. The projected opening of the playground is in June 2020. Click here to see the design concept posted on the Kiwanis Club’s Facebook page.

New Franklin Road Bridge Opens

The City of Roanoke held a ribbon-cutting/dedication ceremony on March 22 for the new Franklin Road Bridge (see photo below). Public art is also part of the new bridge, with works showing the rich history of the Old Southwest neighborhood displayed on the columns of the bridge. Old Southwest Inc. played a major role in helping secure a neighborhood grant for the art, and participated in selecting the artist for this work. The bridge is now open to serve the 9,600 motorists, along with many pedestrians and cyclists, who used alternative routes since its closure in January of 2017. Click here to see a video of the new bridge posted on Roanoke Valley Television's Facebook page. 

Franklin Road Bridge Ceremony with caption

‘Global Harmony’ to Complete Commemoration of Public Art Anniversary

The City of Roanoke will dedicate a new sculpture at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, March 27, in Entranceway Park at the corner of Williamson Road and Wells Avenue. “Global Harmony” (see artist rendering below) by Stephen Fairfield of St. David, Ariz., is the latest addition to the city's Public Art collection. The dedication of “Global Harmony” will end a year-long commemoration, "Ten Years of Public Art," organized by the Roanoke Arts Commission. Learn about the anniversary of Public Art here.

final rendering of hand breaking through rock

City to Host Public Works Jobs Fair

The City of Roanoke will host a Public Works Jobs Fair on Wednesday, March 27, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Public Works Service Center, located at 1802 Courtland Rd. (behind Berglund Auto Group). The event will be free and open to the public. City department divisions participating in the Jobs Fair will include Parks, Fleet, General Services, Stormwater, Transportation, and Solid Waste. Through this event, the city hopes to increase visibility in the community and diversify the workforce by providing an opportunity to people from various backgrounds with diverse skill sets to gain employment.  See more details here.