Boulevard Bridge
Boulevard Bridge in the independent city of Richmond, Virginia is a toll bridge which carries State Route 161 across the James River. At 2,000 feet 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, 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 cents 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. Richmond Metropolitan Authority (RMA) which was building Richmond's new expressway system, purchased the Boulevard Bridge on November 24, 1969 for $1.2 million. The old bridge was substantially improved and tolls were increased to 25 cents in the late 1990s. However, weight restrictions continue to limit traffic to automobiles and light trucks and vans. The RMA also built and maintains the Downtown Expressway and a portion of the Powhite Parkway, which are also toll roads. In 2008, all RMA tolls increased, bringing the Boulevard Bridge to its current toll of 35 cents. Initially, the reason 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) was that 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. In early years, Westover Hills residents were given free access across the bridge 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 RMA control, windshield stickers were used.


Crossings of the James River