RENO — Plans to demolish a 108-year-old downtown Reno bridge made famous by divorcees who tossed rings from it into the Truckee River have moved a big step closer to reality.
Regional flood authority directors approved $7.2 million in funding Friday to pave the way for demolition of the Virginia Street Bridge to begin in spring of 2014.
Local officials said the concrete, double-arched bridge needs to be replaced because it acts as a bottleneck during floods and causes water to pour onto downtown streets.
The bridge became legendary after it was portrayed by Hollywood and the news media as the site where people tossed wedding rings into the Truckee after securing divorces at the nearby courthouse.
The Reno Gazette-Journal reported the $7.2 million authorized Friday will allow demolition to begin next spring and provide for part of the new structure’s construction.
Flood authority Executive Director Jay Aldean said the “crumbling” bridge, built in 1905, is “probably one of the worst bridges in the country.”
Construction of the new bridge is expected to cost about $16 million and be completed in 2015.
Another $10 million in federal funding for construction is being provided through the Nevada Department of Transportation.
The regional flood authority board consists of elected officials from Reno, Sparks and Washoe County.