It will be many months before the Riverwalk Trail has two new footbridges to replace the ones destroyed by Tropical Storm Michael in October.
Trail users won’t see them until at least the fall — and that’s under the best-case scenario, said Danville Parks and Recreation Director Bill Sgrinia.
“It could be a while,” Sgrinia told the Danville Register & Bee during an interview at the parks and recreation office Wednesday.
In addition to the Oct. 11 tropical storm, repeated rainfall pounding the region with high levels of water — plus the December winter storm — caused delays in getting the trail cleared of silt, Sgrinia said. Workers would clean it only to have another downpour wash the dirt onto the trail again.
“We’ve taken a beating,” he said.
Cleaning has been delayed by two months.
It will likely be mid-spring before the trail is cleared of silt. The Riverwalk is still usable but is closed off at the sections where the bridges were located.
“It’s usable, but not back to its pre-storm condition,” Sgrinia said.
One bridge — over Fall Creek — was located behind Danville Public Works just west of the trail’s bathrooms and water fountain, and the other was between Dan Daniel Memorial Park and Anglers Park.
Replacement of the two bridges and clean-up at the 11.7-mile trail could cost close to $400,000, with the new bridges costing close to $300,000 including engineering and design, Sgrinia estimated.
The city is working to on getting a contract with an engineering firm to begin modeling and design work, which would take 60-90 days before the construction would be put out for bids, he said.
With all the flooding and damage, use of the trail has picked up to nearly normal levels for this time of year, said Russell Carter, communications specialist with Danville Parks and Recreation.
“We’re certainly seeing people on the trail, using the trail,” Carter said.
On a chilly and breezy Thursday afternoon, sections of the trail just below the trestle at the Crossing at the Dan looked like a moonscape, with piles of silt along the path.
Money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will likely cover the costs for damages from the storm. FEMA usually reimburses the city for costs related to disasters eligible for assistance.
However, the city will move forward on trail/bridge repairs as soon as it can, said City Manager Ken Larking.
“We’re not going to wait for that [reimbursement] to start,” Larking said Thursday.
On Dec. 18, President Donald Trump approved a disaster declaration for Virginia as a result of Tropical Storm Michael in October, meaning Danville and Pittsylvania County are eligible for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“It allows us to be eligible for funds related to our recovery effort here as a result of Tropical Storm Michael,” Danville Fire Chief David Eagle said last month.
City officials estimate that Danville’s public infrastructure including bridges, roads, streets, parks utilities and public buildings had about $6.4 million worth of damage from the Oct. 11 storm that left three dead in the Dan River Region.
Officials from FEMA and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management surveyed city properties damaged or destroyed by the Oct. 11 tropical storm on Nov. 1.
Danville Public Works Director Rick Drazenovich said Nov. 1 there were about 160 city-owned sites damaged or destroyed during the tropical storm and its flooding.
Eagle said FEMA assistance should cover about 75 to 80 percent of the city’s costs for repairs to public infrastructure.
In addition to the likely FEMA funding, the city has insurance and unappropriated money in its general fund for such emergencies, Larking said.