$50M Wasena Bridge replacement project moves ahead

by Shawn Nowlin

Wasena Bridge aerial view

An estimated 10,000 vehicles occupy the Wasena Bridge daily. Come spring, drivers will have to find a different route to get to their destination. The bridge, built in 1939, will soon be demolished.

While there have been several attempts to demolish and rebuild the bridge over the years, the project will officially begin with crew work in April followed by the demolition phase a month later.

Flyers, postcards and other forms of communication with details will be sent out by the city to inform people. As of press time, none of the businesses on the other side of the bridge are expected to close.

Josephus Johnson-Koroma, the project manager for the Wasena Bridge replacement project, says this will be a two-year project. For the bridge replacement to become a reality, the funds first needed to be approved and allocated. Roughly 80 percent of the project’s $50 million cost will go towards construction.

As someone who regularly utilizes the bridge, Kim Walker says replacing the it will benefit all who use it. “I think the decision to fund the bridge replacement was a no-brainer, to be honest. Most are unaware that the bridge actually runs over five railroad tracks,” she said. “While it will create a temporary inconvenience, in the end, I think it will all be worth it.”

Because of the 24-month closure, a city campaign to drive traffic to businesses in the Wasena area will soon be launched. Once complete, the new bridge will include wider sidewalks, bike lanes, a roundabout on the northern side to improve traffic flow and LED lighting on top and under the bridge. Spring 2026 is the scheduled completion date of the project.

Additionally, the area under the bridge, along Winchester Avenue, is expected to be transformed into a green space. The park’s parking lot, which currently has 100 spaces, will have a landscaped plaza connection to the businesses on Main Street.

When the unveiling of the new bridge happens, Chris McGlure says that he will be present. “I can’t wait until everything is complete. Infrastructure investments of this magnitude do not happen every day. I appreciate the precautions that will be taken to ensure the safety of everyone,” he said. “I have friends that live in the area and they have told me they are excited about the bridge replacement too.”  

A city launch party is currently being organized for mid-March. People are encouraged to visit https://planroanoke.org/wasena-bridge for the most up-to-date information.