After years of Liberty University students crossing Wards Road to get to Walmart and other stores, students now have a safer, more convenient travel route.
The Wards Road pedestrian bridge officially opened Nov. 22. A ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrated the opening of the new bridge. Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr., Lynchburg Mayor Joan Foster, members of city council and others involved in the project were in attendance.
Mayor Foster opened the ceremony by saying that the main purpose of the pedestrian bridge is to keep Liberty students and other pedestrians safe.
Falwell thanked the city and everyone else who partnered with the project.
According to the News and Advance, an earlier traffic study revealed that 700 pedestrians crossed Wards Road in one day. Now, the public can walk across Wards Road without having the concern of being in the way of vehicles.
The 104-foot bridge was officially completed last month. It is 8 feet wide and is handicapped accessible. It is can also accommodate bicycles and has enough room for two-way foot traffic.
The pedestrian bridge was not only a project of Liberty University. The City of Lynchburg was also involved. According to the News and Advance, the city funded $1.35 million of the $1.5 million project. The university is paying the difference and offered the services of its Planning and Construction Department.
According to Falwell, the bridge is not only for Liberty University students, and is open for the public at all times.
“The bridge is always open, though in case of extreme weather, snow or ice, it may become necessary to close the bridge until it can be cleared,” Falwell said.
Although a lot of Liberty students will be using the bridge, Lynchburg City still owns the bridge. The city will be responsible for capital repairs, and Liberty will be in charge of day-to-day maintenance, Falwell said.
Now that the bridge is open, the city and the university are making sure that students no longer cross Wards Road by foot.
“The City of Lynchburg will be building a fence in the median strip to prevent crossings at other locations,” Falwell said.
Along with the bridge, Liberty University is using another project to make Wards Road even more accessible for students. An underground tunnel behind the Vines Center is currently under construction. However, Falwell said the tunnel and bridge serve different purposes.
“The tunnel will allow passage from Liberty to the shopping center on the west side of Route 29 which includes Panera Bread, Sheetz, Chick-fil-a,” Falwell said. “The bridge will allow passage from the west side of Route 29 to the east side of Route 29 which includes Walmart and Target.”