By Jim Barnes, Huguenot Bridge chief engineer
When the city came to us last year with their desire to replace the Huguenot Bridge, I jumped on the opportunity to rebuild one of Richmond’s most iconic thoroughfares. The bridge in its current form is old and outdated and, quite frankly, unsafe. So it was an honor that the city selected our company to head up this important project.
I’ll admit, though, that we have no fucking idea how this whole thing is going to work. We’re really supposed to build a second bridge and tear down the current one, yet keep traffic flowing the whole time over the river? And keep this up for nearly three years? Are we out of our goddamn minds?
The plan, as I understand it, is to replace the entirety of the 2,900-foot bridge with a new structure that will have one 12-foot lane and one 10-foot shoulder in each direction. There will also be a sidewalk on each side for pedestrians. The project is expected to be completed in October 2013.
At least, that’s what I read in the newspaper. Who knows if the media got it right.
I’ll be honest: We’re winging this thing, taking it one day at a time. So far we’ve managed to close the on- and off-ramps on Riverside Drive and they will stay shut down to traffic until June 2012, which I can’t even believe the city let us do. Jesus Christ, that is bound to piss some people off!
Holy shit, can you believe we’re actually going through with this? Who’s in charge here?
Oh right, I am!
What I can say in all certainty is that on paper, this plan works. The design elements, the construction blueprints, the transportation aspects, the $51 million cost figure – it’s all fine and dandy.
Logistically, however, this thing is a total mindfuck. And take it from me, because I studied civil engineering for like two years and I still don’t understand how bridges work. For instance, how do they just float there like that without sinking?
Oh, we should put some of those tall tower things on the new bridge like there are on the Golden Gate. Hold on, let me jot that down in my notepad.
I’ve been told from someone on our team (I think it was Jim, one of the supes) that the plan involves tearing down the old bridge after the new one is built, should we ever get to that point. Problem is – and I’ll try to be as clear as I can here – I haven’t a fucking clue how to tear down something like that. I reckon we just blow it up, but I’m unsure of how to do that without killing anyone.
I’d imagine when we do blow up the bridge we’ll just have to make sure everyone is wearing hard hats and standing at least 10 feet away from the structure when we send in the bomber jets.
Oh, and remind me to close the bridge to cars on the day we destroy it. Hoo boy, the media would be all over us if we forgot to do that. Can you imagine?
We’ll figure out how to get this done, I’m confident of that much. Even if it means working late nights to learn a bit more about bridge reconstruction. But definitely not the weekends, because that’s my time with the kids. In the meantime, I’m off to Barnes & Noble to buy one of those Dummies books.