- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

RENO, Nev. (AP) - A century-old bridge crossing the Truckee River in downtown Reno is going to be around a little longer than expected.

The historic Virginia Street Bridge’s date with a wrecking ball has been postponed until at least late summer and perhaps into next year because of a delay in federal permitting for the Truckee River flood project.

Demolition and reconstruction of the bridge first built in 1905 is expected to cost $20 million. The work was scheduled to begin this spring.

But city civil engineer Kerri Lanza said they’re still awaiting two necessary permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The hope now is to start by the end of the summer, but rising waters in the fall could force a delay into next spring.

“We’d like to get this going,” she told the Reno Gazette-Journal (https://tinyurl.com/l2mjv6d).

The bridge became legendary after it was portrayed by Hollywood and the news media as the site where people tossed wedding rings into the Truckee after securing divorces at the nearby courthouse. But the aging bridge just south of the main casino district causes major problems during floods, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars of damage in 1997.

The double-arch concrete span acts as a bottleneck, capturing logs and other flood debris, and causing water to back up into the streets of downtown Reno.

Lanza said they are awaiting one permit needed to enter the river and the other to alter previously constructed flood walls. Essentially, Corps officials are reviewing hydraulic modeling to ensure as designed the Virginia Street Bridge project won’t cause problems when constructed and damage already-constructed flood control features in the area, she said. She said she’s confident the project’s designers will prevail, needed permits will be issued and that the project will proceed as planned.

“It should have a beneficial impact,” she said.

Advertising for construction bids must await issuance of the federal permits, Lanza said. She said funding for the bridge replacement is secure even if the project is substantially delayed.

The project also proposes to replace bridges spanning the river at Sierra, Center, Lake and Booth streets due to the same flooding issues. Reno is pursuing the Virginia Street Bridge project as a stand-alone effort.

The same strategy is being used in Sparks, where the city has started work on a $43 million project to relocate the North Truckee Drain, a major drainage channel that also causes problems during big floods. That project is proceeding on time and on budget, Sparks spokesman Adam Mayberry said.


Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, https://www.rgj.com

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