The T. Tyler Potterfield Pedestrian Bridge has brought local residents and the outside community together by connecting downtown Richmond to the Manchester neighborhood. Many people are now able to interact with the James River in a completely unique way, solidifying the river as the city’s greatest asset. Who doesn’t want to have the sense of “walking on water” especially when the river is creating class 4/5 rapids after many days of rain that we’ve recently experienced? I’ve seen huge trees made to look like toothpicks when being washed down the mighty James.
But there’s more to experience, and the walk across the bridge needs to provide a complete Loop from the southside of the river to the northside. While walking the T-Pot Bridge from Brown’s Island to Manchester, time and time again I’ve had non-city dwellers ask me if the trail continues. People do not want to back track, but to move forward and complete a continuous Loop from where they started. Because I’m familiar with the area, I walk from my Church Hill home down to the canal to Brown’s Island and cross the T-Pot Bridge. From there, I continue onward to the Manchester Floodwall Walk and cross the Mayo Bridge to get back to Church Hill. Other people not so familiar with the area simply cross the T-Pot Bridge from Brown’s Island and back track back to where they started because they may not realize that there is a Loop to experience.
Unfortunately, that Loop isn’t the most pleasant when it comes to crossing the Mayo Bridge. The bridge is more of a dainty 6 ounce tea cup than a gigantic 64 ounce plastic big gulp container found at your local 7-11. It was never built to handle such heavy vehicle traffic. Some of that traffic, and all trucks, should be diverted to the Manchester Bridge. The Manchester Bridge (more of a Big Gulp than a T Cup) has six lanes total going north and south, and takes you right into the heart of downtown. The Mayo Bridge has four lanes total going north and south with a very small sliver of sidewalk where many people traverse back and forth across the bridge. Not only are people driving, walking, and biking across the Mayo Bridge, there are also people fishing from the bridge. Even though the speed limit is 35 mph (and 25 mph for a portion), people are treating the road as a raceway and going well over the speed limit. One fatal move of a driver and anyone biking, walking, or fishing could wind up being road kill. Check out our prior Fix The Mayo Bridge article that talks about this in further detail.
The Mayo Bridge should be reduced to two lanes with a better pedestrian experience incorporated into the design. Doing this would complete the urban Loop that local residents and out of towners could experience beyond the T-Pot Bridge. Below is a visual that shows the Loop connecting the T-Pot Bridge to the Manchester Floodwall Walk to the Mayo Bridge to the Canal Walk.
RVA don’t stop now with just the T-Pot Bridge. Let’s keep going by completing that much needed experience with THE LOOP!! Let’s put into place the continuation of the riverfront plan and much needed pedestrian friendly improvements to the Mayo Bridge!