Bridges have been the subject of novels, iconic movies, countless photos.
Cities are sometimes associated with their bridges.
We have our own brand of bridges in Southwest Virginia-- Swinging Bridges. In fact,we have the most than any other part of the state.
It's a place many in this part of the world remember fondly, down by the swinging bridge on the river. But a closer look and you can see just what an engineering marvel these bridges really are, their original purpose may surprise you.
"Most of those were in places where ford, fords in the river where people could drive across and the pedestrian bridges were usually just to provide access when the water was to high to ride or drive across," Virginia Department of Transportation Gary Lester said.
For the past 80 plus years the Virginia Department of Transportation has inspected and maintained these bridges. It came about with the formation of the department itself.
"The majority of them came in 1932 as part of the Byrd Act which is when all the county roads, the bridges were turned over to the Department of Transportation for maintenance," He says.
Underscore the word maintenance. If you are aware of one of these iconic bridges, take a picture of it, because if something happens, there won't be another one like it.
"We don't build any new ones. Most of the pedestrian bridges, the new ones now are the prefabricated truss bridges which you see a lot of places in the cites crossing over the roadways," Lester said.
But these old bridges have served and continue to serve their purpose under the watchful eye of engineers especially in our part of the commonwealth.
"We probably got more than any other district in the state. I think at one time several years ago there about 70 in the whole state," He says.
And to think 40 of them still exist for us to walk shakily across.
Historic Swinging Bridges
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