I’m going to learn a lot more than I realized, through writing this blog. “The Nickel Bridge” is a nickname. It’s actually the Boulevard Bridge. The nickname started because — you guessed it — the toll was originally five cents. It’s 35 cents now. (Order an E-ZPass, RVA friends; it saves time and panic.)

I’m writing about this landmark first, because it’s one of RVA’s most iconic. (We’ll get to the Owl.) You can’t beat the view of the James, from this bridge. The Nickel Bridge connects the Carillon, Byrd Park, Maymont area, on the north side of the river, with the Westover Hills neighborhood and Forest Hill, on the south side. When it first opened, in 1925, residents of Westover Hills could apply for a special license plate that allowed them to pass through without paying the toll. This policy continued until 1969, when the bridge went from private to public ownership. In 1992, the bridge was closed for significant renovations, and reopened in 1993 with improved access for bikes and pedestrians, and wider lanes.

That renovation is what made the Nickel Bridge into a mellow evening-outing destination, as the pedestrian lane is now safely partitioned from the vehicle lane. Park somewhere nearby (It’s easy to find an out-of-the-way spot in Westover Hills.) and take a walk across the bridge, stopping for a while in the middle, to watch the sun set over the neighboring Powhite Parkway bridge. It took my breath away.

Published by Bethany Lansing