For all of its outward beauty, the Boulevard Bridge had — up until recently — at least one noticeable flaw: Pieces of it were falling off. As noted by the James River News Hub blog, a pale green section of piping that used to transport rainwater from the 85-year-old bridge's surface down to the river was found imbedded in its bank last week.
While pieces of the bridge have been found downriver, there's no cause for alarm, says David Caudill, assistant director of operations at the Richmond Metropolitan Authority, which owns the bridge.
In the most recent every-other-year inspection, engineers rate the Boulevard Bridge structure as being in “good” condition. Same goes for those sections of the concrete support piers that sit under the surface of the river, which must be inspected annually. The bridge's substructure was rated “satisfactory to fair,” in an August inspection.
Built in 1925, the span is often referred to as the Nickel Bridge — the original price of the toll for using it. It now costs 35 cents. It crosses the James River, connecting Westover Hills and Byrd Park. When the authority bought the bridge in 1969 it was in a state of disrepair, Caudill says, and has undergone a number of renovations, including a replacement in 2009 of the pipes that direct rainwater away from it.
Before the renovation, pieces of that old system would periodically fall off and float downstream.