Replacement project for ‘unsound’ Herndon pedestrian bridge advances

A pedestrian bridge on Hunters Creek Trail in Herndon is due for replacement (via Town of Herndon)

The Town of Herndon has taken a crucial step towards constructing a new pedestrian bridge along Hunters Creek Trail, which could be ready as soon as the end of August.

The Herndon Town Council approved a special exception on Tuesday (May 14) that clears the way for a replacement of the worn-out 1970s-era bridge in Runnymede Park. The bridge was shut down last year due to safety concerns after being deemed “structurally unsound.”

According to a town staff report, the new 25-foot-long replacement bridge will be built using fiberglass-reinforced polymer and helical pile foundations, allowing for a wider stream bed. The project will also restore the unnamed stream under the bridge.

A special exception was required because the area is designated by local authorities as a flood-prone zone, putting it at risk of potential damage.

However, a flood study conducted by the engineering and design consulting firm Kimley-Horn, which has a satellite office in Reston, concluded that the proposed improvements won’t lead to higher flood levels and would likely slow the water flow in the stream.

At Tuesday’s public hearing, several residents urged the town council to proceed with construction promptly, expressing worries about trail accessibility and traffic congestion with pedestrians unable to use the bridge.

Holly Giuliano, who lives near Hunters Creek Trail, said she and her family rely on the trail to reach the pool at the Hunters Creek Clubhouse. Without access to a bridge, she and other residents in the neighborhood are forced to drive, potentially leading to congestion and parking problems, she said.

“The parking lot at the Hunters Creek pool is not huge, and this is going to cause more cars to park in the parking lot with possible spillover into the…neighborhood, Queens Row Street in particular,” Giuliano said. “…I have concerns that this is going to create some community relations issues between pool members, residents [over] general traffic issues.”

Hunters Creek Bridge in Herndon (via Town of Herndon)

Giuliano and others criticized the town for not fixing or replacing the bridge sooner, pointing out that it was in disrepair even before its closure in 2023.

“This is an exceptionally long period of time to get a bridge repaired…It doesn’t take too much effort to look underneath those pylons have been eroded for quite some time,” she said.

Resident Ruston Spurlock stressed the urgency of replacing the bridge, which he described as not only a key piece of transportation infrastructure, but also a place where he and his family share meaningful experiences.

“If you poll anybody in that area, that bridge is not just a tangible item,” Spurlock said. “It is a bridge to memories and experience for our community.”

According to town staff, the current bridge can’t be removed and replaced until they receive approval from the Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for designing and building infrastructure, managing water resources, and conducting environmental restoration projects.

That process could take anywhere from six to up to nine months, staff said.

“[The Army Corps] will not grant us emergency authorization to proceed without a permit,” one staff member told the town council. “We have been checking in with them, and there have been movements, and I’ve seen them coordinating with other agencies in the state…But again, we are beholden to what the Army Corps can process during their normal review time.”

Staff expressed optimism that the town will install a new bridge on schedule by the end of August. In the interim, they plan to send regular newsletters to local homeowners’ associations and provide updates on the construction progress via social media.

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