Every school day, many Collegiate students and families drive east along River Road to get to school. At the end of every school day, Collegiate students drive west on River to get to Robins Campus for their daily sports practices. But not anymore. Currently, the Virginia Department of Transportation is working on the small River Road bridge, which lies right in between the Collegiate School’s main campus and the Robins Campus. The construction project has proved to be an inconvenience for many Collegiate students, teachers, and families.
Those who live west of the bridge have it the worst. Mait Innes (‘16), who lives west of the bridge in Lower Tuckahoe, says that “It used to take me seven minutes to get to school, but now takes me fifteen, depending on traffic.” And traffic can be a considerable issue, because everyone who previously took River now has to detour onto Patterson Avenue. Now, Patterson can become incredibly congested in the mornings, and if you get unlucky with traffic and red lights, your morning commute to school could more than double. Innes says, “It’s such a huge inconvenience. There’s so much traffic on Patterson, everything is so backed up, and it just takes such a long time to get from my house to anywhere I want to go.”
However, the construction does not only affect those who use River Road to get to school every morning, but also those who need to drive to the Robins Campus every day after school for athletic practices. Student drivers could previously drive to Robins Campus via River Road, which was peaceful, generally traffic-free, and lasted about seven minutes. Now, the drive on Patterson takes 15 minutes, if you are lucky. Sawyer Gaffney (‘16), a member of the Collegiate Soccer team says, “It’s awful. My drive to practice more than doubles.”
Students have also complained about the quality of their drive after the school day. Kyle Riopelle (‘17) said,”I actually used to enjoy my drive to practice everyday. There wasn’t any traffic, it was an easy drive, and it gave me some time to get ready for practice.” The drive down River was peaceful, but the drive down Patterson is full of traffic, and just is not enjoyable. Riopelle, angered at the inconveniences that the River Road construction has caused him says, “Patterson is the worst.”
The traffic on Patterson is usually not overcrowded. Throughout most of the day, you won’t find much congestion. However, during the morning carpool to Collegiate, and directly after the school day ends, you may find bumper-to-bumper traffic due to the detour caused by the construction. On a drive from Collegiate to the Robins Campus after school, Collegiate students may find themselves waiting through two, or even three, cycles of lights to turn left onto Patterson from Gaskins Road. This means that you may find yourself waiting in the left hand turn lane, sometimes for five minutes, while you are driving to your sports practices. On the bright side, you can look out your window, and wave to a handful of other Collegiate students who are stuck in traffic, just like you.
At this point in the year most students have accepted that the detour is now part of their daily routine. However, many are still confused as to why the construction of a bridge as small as the one on River Road could take over six months, as it is scheduled to be completed in December of 2015. The project was originally scheduled to be completed in October, but the scheduled completion was delayed until December. Multiple calls for more details, placed to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s contact, Keith Rider, went unanswered.
The construction on the bridge may be a short-term inconvenience for those affiliated with Collegiate and those who live in the area, but in the long run, a new bridge on River will lead to safer, easier lives in Richmond. There was destined to be a construction project at some point on the bridge, as it was worn, dilapidated, and looked as if it could have broken down at anytime. It is the government’s duty to maintain the local infrastructure, so although the delay may be inconvenient and questionable to some, it is important that we are able to drive on safe roads and bridges every day on the way to school.
Cover photo: Dalton Ruh