Boulevard Bridge

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Boulevard Bridge
Boulevard Bridge Richmond VA Alistar Harris.JPG
Boulevard Bridge from the south side of the James River
Coordinates37°31′54″N 77°29′02″W / 37.5317°N 77.4839°W / 37.5317; -77.4839
Carries SR 161
CrossesJames River
LocaleRichmond, Virginia
Official nameBoulevard Bridge
Other name(s)Nickel Bridge
Maintained byRichmond Metropolitan Authority
Total length2,030 feet
Toll$0.35 Smart Tag/E-ZPass

Boulevard Bridge in the independent city of Richmond, Virginia is a toll bridge which carries State Route 161 across the James River.

At 2,030 feet (620 m) long, the Boulevard Bridge was completed in 1925. It was privately owned and financed by the Boulevard Bridge Corporation for the purpose of providing access to the new Westover Hills neighborhood in South Richmond,[1] where one of the selling points of the homes was free bridge access. It is named for The Boulevard, a main route through Richmond that ends just north of the bridge in Byrd Park. For many years, 5-cent tolls were collected at a toll booth midway on the span, and it became widely known as the "Nickel Bridge". Some years later, tolls were increased to 10 cents, and the nickname became the "Dime Bridge". However, despite all subsequent toll increases, it is still known today as the "nickel bridge" to many locals.[2]

Initially, the early toll-barrier was located in the middle of the span (actually above the north shore of the river between the canal and the north end),[2] because all the property on either side except the right-of-way for the roadway itself was owned by others, and the toll barrier at that location could be erected at no additional land acquisition expense. It was certainly not possible to circumvent paying the toll at that location. The toll booths were relocated to a plaza north of the bridge in the mid-1960s.

Toll plate issued by Boulevard Bridge Corporation in mid 20th century

During the years of ownership by the Boulevard Bridge Corporation, Westover Hills residents were given free access across the bridge [2] by the use of a special license plate that was attached below the state plates on their cars. These plates had to be applied for and were also sold to the general public. They were changed each year, and in the last years before Richmond Metropolitan Authority (RMA) control, windshield stickers were used.

On November 24, 1969, the RMA, which was building Richmond's new expressway system at the time, purchased the Boulevard Bridge for $1.2 million. The toll on the bridge was kept at 10 cents until 1988, when it was doubled to 20 cents.[1]

In August 1992, the RMA closed the bridge for 18 months to complete extensive renovation work, which included widening the existing lanes, installing new toll booths and equipment on the north end of the bridge,[1] and improving safe access for bicycles and pedestrians. The bridge reopened in October 1993.[2] The toll was increased again in 1998 to 25 cents.[1] In 2008, the RMA increased the tolls on all of its roads, bringing the Boulevard Bridge to its current rate of 35 cents.[3] Despite the renovation work in the early 1990s, weight restrictions on the bridge limit vehicles to under 7,500 lbs.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d RMA. "Boulevard Bridge". Archived from the original on 16 April 2012. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Harry Kollatz. "Spanning History: The telling tolls of the Nickel Bridge". Richmond Magazine. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  3. ^ Peter Samuel. "Richmond VA tolls up to 70c from 50c". Tollroadnews. Archived from the original on 9 March 2012. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  4. ^ Wesley P. Hester (January 2, 2010). "Boulevard Bridge marks its 85th birthday". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Archived from the original on February 4, 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2012.

External links[edit]

Media related to Boulevard Bridge (Richmond, Virginia) at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 37°31′54″N 77°29′2″W / 37.53167°N 77.48389°W / 37.53167; -77.48389