Sears Hill Bridge Re-Opens After Three Years of Fundraising
A Staunton neighborhood is connected to the city's downtown once again. The city re-opened the Sears Hill Bridge Saturday after three years of hard work and fundraising to restore it.
The Sears Hill Bridge dates back more than a century. The new bridge will connect the Sears Hill neighborhood with downtown Staunton for many years to come.
"It's a great day for Staunton," said Bill Frazier, chair of the Sears Hill Bridge committee.
"Today has been like a dream come true," said Lee Cochran, also on the Sears Hill Bridge committee.
Saturday will go down in Staunton history.
"We've worked very hard on it for three years and we've raised a lot of money and we've restored a beautiful bridge," Cochran said.
People cheered, listened to live music and enjoyed taking their first steps on the new bridge. Frazier says this day was more than he could have imagined when the crumbling bridge came down in 2010.
"We didn't realize what kind of condition it was in, it literally was ready to fall down, it was unsafe," he said.
People living in the Sears Hill neighborhood lost their direct connection downtown. Tom Sheets says they were traveling through steep and dangerous banks to get around without the bridge. He's happy they finally have a safe way across the railroad tracks and it's more than a "one-way street."
"I think one of the several ideas in this story, the people of downtown will come up to Sears Hill more because of the emphasis," Sheets said.
The committee is hopeful the bridge will attract tourists to re-connect with a part of Staunton's past.
"The residents have been without a connection to downtown for several years and we're glad to reconnect," Frazier said.
The city of Staunton owns the bridge but the $200,000 restoration effort was funded mostly by donations.