STAUNTON, Va -- Frank Varner lived across the street from where the Sears Hill Bridge used to be for 57 years.
“I hate to see it closed,” said Varner, in a 2010 interview. “The nearest way to town is through that walkway there. If we have to walk to town you have to go a long way around. If I have to start my car to go to town, I'm going to go somewhere else.”
On Friday, a WHSV reporter knocked on Frank's door and let him know the bridge is coming back.
When the bridge was there, he used it quite a bit.
“I used to walk down to the bank or some of the stores about two or three times a week, anyways.”
Varner said he had made the trip downtown several hundred times. When that route was cut off, his life changed.
“You really feel lost for awhile. If you walk, you have to go a long way around.”
The city did make an alternate route downtown, but neighbors said it was very steep and oftentimes would be covered in debris. Varner had no choice but to give up on downtown Staunton.
“If you have to go in the car, might as well just go to Walmart or something where you can get everything in one store instead of going to several different stores.”
On the morning of Nov. 18th, the Sears Hill Bridge will return. Fundraising efforts over the past two years raised nearly $300,000 for the restoration project.
Frank said he will be there when the cranes arrive the morning of Nov. 18th.
“Yes I will. I was down here when they took it down. I want to be here when they put it back.”
Fundraising for the bridge was handled by the Community Foundation of the Blue Ridge. Once the bridge is back in place, it will still be a while until pedestrians can use it.
A ribbon cutting is planned for sometime next month.
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