If perception is reality, then the Robert O. Norris Bridge, connecting the Middle Peninsula to the Northern Neck over the Rappahannock River to White Stone, Virginia, is a catastrophe waiting to happen. The constant damage to this bridge, the perpetual repairs, and the mere visual images taken in while driving across a bridge with its rusted holes and its constantly cracked cement, leaves those who must drive over this bridge in a constant state of anxiety.
While VDOT maintains that this bridge is structurally sound, they also point out that there simply is no funding to replace a bridge of that size. I wonder which is it? Is it really structurally sound, or is the risk that the bridge will collapse, taking dozens of lives with it, less than the will and means to replace it?
For those who have to drive over this bridge, this is a matter of some great importance. It’s their lives they feel they are risking every time they cross it. I’d wager to say that more prayers are said by more people traveling across the Rappahannock on a Thursday, then are said in local churches on Sunday.
Now, I do not doubt the integrity of VDOT. Of all the statewide agencies which we Virginians deal with on a daily basis, VDOT is by far the best. However, I must question a State Government which prioritizes hand outs and subsidies over infrastructure. The Robert O. Norris Bridge isn’t the only bridge in woeful disrepair. Yet, we’re constantly told that we don’t have the money for infrastructure. What money we do have seems to end up in Northern Virginia (which is fine, that’s where most of the people and jobs and money are these days). Still – what is the purpose of our Virginia Government, if it is not to maintain our infrastructure, with an eye toward the future?
We Virginians ought to re-prioritize the role of our state government. I understand just how expensive infrastructure has become, but our state government hasn’t taken this expense into account at all. Instead of recognizing that we’ll need to spend a greater percentage of our State Budget on infrastructure, our elected officials in Richmond appear to have decided that it’s simply too expensive, and “oh well”.
You can join the Replace the Robert O Norris Bridge Facebook Page HERE.
You can sign the Petition to Replace the Robert O Norris Bridge HERE.
Please consider doing so. No one involved in trying to get this bridge replaced is ignorant of the challenges VDOT and the State of Virginia face in doing so. Writing massive infrastructure projects into balanced budgets is phenomenally difficult. However, the bridge will have to be replaced eventually and we should start planning for it now, and that will require different priorities written into our state budgets. If you want to reach out to your local representatives or State Senators, it would be wise to make sure they understand that you understand the difficulties, but that when faced with such inevitabilities, procrastination is not an option, nor is it acceptable.