There is a Bridge;
A piece of our history, that can be saved, kept as a reminder of our past. It is the last of its kind; 139 years old, way past it’s prime, not very pretty, and even in perfect nick, obsolete. But it is poetic. Driving or walking across it is a magical, immersive experience in our shared Heritage. In its day, it was an engineering marvel. People came from miles away just to admire the technology. How times changed! The bridge is a perfect example of a bygone era, a simpler time. Let’s be honest—the Waterloo Bridge is little more than a museum piece. It’s on an obscure side road, a short blue highway not two miles long, that has service from each end. Were the bridge relegated to a walking or biking feature, the residents may have to drive a whole extra mile and a half!
There are many reasons for Not replacing the bridge. The road serviced by the bridge, Rt. 622, is a very minor side road, not a busy commuter thoroughfare. The single lane bridge creates no congestion. There is minimal development along the road, and this is a Very good thing. A one-lane, rickety old steel bridge May act as a shunt, throttling not only traffic, but development and urban sprawl. I have heard some say that Marshall’s water dilemma was its saving grace, throttling its unchecked development. Sometimes, “Slow and Deliberate” is superior to “We should build it and expand, because we CAN!”. Perhaps this bridge may afford a bit of pacing.
Indeed, a modern concrete bridge would be completely out of place in that setting. A replacement will cost over six million dollars. Renovation of the existing bridge would cost less than three million. A private donor has volunteered a million toward this renovation and preservation effort. If renovations are not started soon, the bridge, its heritage and history, will be lost forever. Were this a Snail Darter or a Spotted Owl, I feel the groundswell of support would be deafening!!
Preservation of this unwieldy, aesthetically unappealing and obsolete bridge is wholly and entirely worthwhile. The Waterloo Bridge is a fine example of why folks move TO Fauquier County, and I hope its renovation leads to it being a feature for another hundred years. People may come just to gaze at the antique wonder, walk along it or bicycle across it. One cannot zoom along at 50 miles an hour along this road. I feel we need more of that. The places for gentle reflection and reminiscing are becoming frighteningly scarce. The road, the community upon it, and the people that may come for the experience of the antiquity, are all perfectly served by the 136-year-old single lane bridge.
by Chris Cloud