The Collegian
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Westhampton Lake bridge repairs scheduled for completion in early May

<p>Repairs for the bridges across the University of Richmond’s Westhampton Lake have officially begun and are expected to be completed by early May, according to University Facilities.&nbsp;</p>

Repairs for the bridges across the University of Richmond’s Westhampton Lake have officially begun and are expected to be completed by early May, according to University Facilities. 

Repairs for the bridges across the University of Richmond’s Westhampton Lake have officially begun and are expected to be completed by early May, according to University Facilities.

At the beginning of the spring semester, the University Facilities announced in an email that the bridges connecting the Richmond and Westhampton sides of campus would be indefinitely closed for repairs. For months, students have been waiting for the bridges to reopen. 

“We appreciate the patience and understanding of our community as we ensure the bridges are as safe as possible for students, faculty, staff, neighbors, and other visitors to campus,” Sam Robertson, executive director of facilities operation, said. “We expect the bridges to be back in service in early May.”

A follow-up email announcing the start of repairs was sent to UR community members in March. Work was visible upon students’ return from spring break, and in April, a white cover was placed over the entire bridge.

“The Westhampton Lake bridges were damaged in January due to flooding and freezing temperatures,” Robertson said. “The bridges sustained extensive structural damage to the piers—the part of the bridge that extends into the water—due to large debris hitting the piers during flooding. Freezing temperatures also compromised the steel bracing on the bridges.”

The damages put the bridges at risk of collapse. It has been blocked off to protect the community, Robertson said. 

“The safety of our community is a top priority, and we have placed a gate to block passage along with signs indicating the bridges are closed to ensure they are not in use until they are repaired,” he said. 

Some people ignored the signage and decided to find ways onto the bridge regardless. 

“At no time should anyone disregard the signage and walk across the bridge,” Robertson said.

Contractors have been secured to finish the repairs, Robertson said. There will also be new additions to make the bridges safer, including steel bracing and rewrapping the piers in concrete and waterproof materials.

Nina Kirkpatrick, a first-year living on the Richmond side, has had to take longer alternative paths to her activities due to the bridges’ unexpected closure. 

“Since I play two club sports, I think it’s more difficult and takes longer to walk to where I need to go,” Kirkpatrick said.

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Many club sports meet on the Westhampton side, including the tennis club, which Kirkpatrick is a member of.

Taking photos during commencement is a longstanding tradition for graduating UR students. Many seniors are uncertain about the bridge’s future and the possibility of taking gazebo graduation photos by May will be impossible. 

“I understand that it is important to maintain the bridge and keep everyone safe, but it is always a little sad when big sections of the campus are inaccessible during your last few weeks,” senior Kate Guernsey said. “It would’ve been nice to have access to such a unique part of Richmond before I graduate.”

Contact news writer Lukyan Oppedisano at lukyan.oppedisano@richmond.edu.

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