STAUNTON, Va -- Neighbors celebrated the return of the Sears Hill Bridge. It was condemned in 2009 and the city removed it a year later.
On Monday, neighbors from all over the city came out to witness the bridge being put back where it belongs. When it was raised in the air, the crowd cheered. Many of them took pictures forever capturing that moment in Staunton's history.
In 2009, a WHSV reporter interviewed Frank Varner, who was a neighbor not too happy to see the bridge go and he vowed to be here the day the bridge returned.
“I'm glad to see it back,” said Varner, “It's been about what, three years, something like that? It'll be good to walk across it again.”
Varner was worried that the bridge was not going to be the same old bridge he grew up with. Even though it arrived with some new wood planks specially treated to last up to 50 years, he was happy with what he saw.
“Yeah it looks the same, only a lot cleaner and nicer. The boards were old on the deck there before. Now they look nice. Really new boards, new paint, looks good.”
Of course, Varner wasn't the only person in Staunton with memories of the bridge. Rodney Miller, another neighbor, remembered the bridge as a part of his childhood.
“I used to live in this area, right over on Johnson St. I used to play on this bridge when I was 5 or 6 years old,” said Miller.
With the bridge gone, children in Staunton wouldn't ever have the chance to stand on it and watch a train go by. Now that it's back, Miller plans to share that moment with his grandson.
“It's a funny feeling 'cause very seldom do you get a chance to do something like that. It's a real fun feeling and I'm sure he'll just love it.”
On Monday, the bridge was not able to be walked on just yet. The steps still needed to be installed.
That is a process the friends of the Sears Hill Bridge said will happen as soon as possible.
More than $160,000 has been raised to get the bridge refurbished and installed. Another $40,000 is needed to complete the project.