Oh, happy day: JPA bridge finally opens

"Is this it?" a passerby says to a VDOT worker near the new Jefferson Park Avenue Bridge.

"This is it," he says, loading a "Road Closed" sign into the back of a truck.

And with that, the new bridge over the the tracks of the Norfolk Southern railroad, an $11.7 million project that took exactly 17 months and 16 days to build, was open. Cheers from the small crowd gathered on the bridge went up, and the first motorists to cross honked their horns and shouted out their windows.

Jim Utterback, VDOT’s Culpeper District Administrator, said in a statement that the new bridge will better connect neighborhoods and "improve access for emergency responders and public transit to the Fry’s Spring neighborhood," but its long closure was a source of frustration for businesses on the corner of Jefferson Park Avenue and Fontaine Avenue.

"Well," said Wayside Barber Shop owner Bobby Bishop, who was especially financially hard hit by the bridge closure, pausing for a moment to watch traffic cross the bridge, "that was a pain in the a**."

Indeed, for nearly a year and half the bridge project isolated Bishop's 30-year old business, and almost killed it, along with others on the corner; the JPA Fast Mart, Wayside Chicken, Durty Nelly's, and Hoos Brew, a coffee and ice cream place run by Bishop's wife, Joan.

Today, though, was a happy day, as cars crossed the gleaming new 67-foot wide bridge with pedestrian walk-ways, bike lanes, and new exits to the business plaza.

"We're in business," Bishop shouted to his wife over at Hoos Brew, "thank goodness."

During the bridge closure, businesses on that corner weren't the only ones to suffer. While the neighborhood across the bridge enjoyed a nearly traffic-free year and half, those on Shamrock Road, which served as an alternate traffic route during the bridge construction, endured some heavy traffic through a very narrow residential area.

"Yes, we're expecting a big bump in business," says Fontaine Avenue's Atlas Coffee co-owner Lorie Craddock, who has been documenting the bridge construction on Facebook since it began. "And we're very happy for the people on Shamrock Road."


18 months..They built Hoover Dam in 3 years and change, Golden Gate Bridge 4 years, Empire State Building a tad over 13 months. Sad commentary on modern times.

I'm confused how one can legally or safely turn into the Wayside parking lot. If you're coming from Fry's Spring there are multiple yellow lines in front of the entrance - can one legally cross them and turn left into the parking lot ?

And if you turn left on Fontaine and want to turn left into Bishop's barbershop there's a lane with an arrow going the opposite way and a double yellow line. Can we legally turn left into the parking lot there ?

I'm confused ?

JPA, whether it's legal or not, I doubt the cops will enforce against anyone turning left into the Wayside lot coming north on JPA extended or west on JPA/Fontaine. After all, the most loyal customers at Wayside are the cops, and they have to figure a way to turn in there, too.

Go figure - I asked a Cop and there is no legal way to turn left into the businesses - so not such a happy day .