3/16//07 - FATE OF VIRGINIA ST BRIDGE DISCUSSED - So no decisions were made at tonight's meeting, but the Army Corps of Engineers outlined some issues with restoring the bridge; the first being it won't really stop a 100-year flood from flooding downtown, because it doesn't address the problem of debris clogging underneath the bridge. Second, the North Riverwalk, the movie theater, the 10 North Virginia plaza and the Masonic Building would have to have major construction rework done to them to accommodate the bypass channels proposed. Third, the restoration wouldn't allow for an underpass to be built from the post office to the Riverwalk. So it comes down to if you accept what the Army Corps of Engineers is reporting. I personally do, because I'm not an engineer, and they are, and they were the ones presenting.
Bridges similar to this one were suggested for not only Virginia St, but also (possibly) for Sierra and Lake (a relatively new bridge was placed on Center St in 1996). This type of bridge can have a far thinner road bed (because of the arch support) and will not hang down as far and block water flow.
However, to protect against a 100 year flood (1997 was a 117 year flood) it will also require that the banks have raised floodwalls, up to 8 feet higher than is now the case. To accommodate the raised height, the roadway approaches on each side of the river would have to be "ramped up" so that the clear span could be raised as much as 5 feet higher over the river level than is now the case (reminded me of the ramping that now leads up to the train trench bridges).
No visuals were given of how downtown would appear with these higher walls, but they promised to provide them for the committee before the next scheduled meeting on either 4/11 or 4/13. I think they are talking about raising the river edge walkways and bridge roadways by about 5 feet and putting a solid concrete rather railing along them that extends another 3 feet (but I am not positive).
Anyway, it was pretty clear that nobody on the committee (representing Reno, Sparks, Washoe Co and - in the future - Storey Co) wanted anything much to do with further delay in the overall 800+ million project to try and find a way to protect a bridge with a roadway that can be as much as 5 feet below maximum flood stage.
Why seriously modify all of these buildings and structures, if it doesn't even fully protect from a 100-year-flood? If it means 5 feet of water could still spill over the restored Virginia St. bridge during a major flood, even with the by-pass channels, like the Army Corps of Engineers said in this meeting, then it's not worth saving. Is it hypocritical of me to feel that way when I am working so hard to preserve the historic homes in my neighborhood? I don't think so...in my neighborhood, it's about aesthetics and preserving history. For the Virginia St. Bridge, you add the factor of safety and property destruction on a mass scale if the plan fails.
Here are some images of different variations of the Virginia St. Bridge, including some from previous floods.
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