What's News Today for Tuesday, January 3, 2017

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - A two-year long construction project kicks off in Roanoke. The Franklin Road bridge is going to be replaced after more than 70 years in service. The first step to replacing this bridge is to demolish it, so starting Tuesday, it won't be available for any vehicles to cross. The project is expected to cost $13.5 million, but he says VDOT will be footing half of the bill. For drivers used to going across the bridge, there will be detours. Drivers heading south on Franklin Road will have to take a left when they get to the intersection with Elm Avenue. For drivers heading north, they'll look for the intersection with Reserve Avenue to take a right to connect with Jefferson Street to make their way around the planned construction.

Danville City Council has a work session tonight... where they will get information from city staff on three key focus areas: reducing violent crime, strengthening the working relationship with the School Board for the purpose of improving education in City Schools and growing Danville. These three areas were selected as a focus during a recent city council retreat.

The Danville Science Center Director will talk about the Master Plan. It opened in 1995 and over the past twenty years, it has more than doubled its public exhibit space with the renovation of the Southern Railway Administrative Building in 2005 and most recently, in 2014, added southern Virginia's first and only Digital Dome Theater to its public lineup.  This addition resulted in an annual attendance of 44,000 in FY16, up significantly from 25,500 in FY13.

In 2015, the staff and Board of Directors began the process of completing a five year strategic plan that was adopted in the July 2016. One of the main strategic priorities identified was to create a five year plan to improve the facilities, invest in new permanent exhibits and to create a dedicated young learners space based on industry leading research and best practices on early childhood development. In response to that priority, the Science Center retained Roto, Inc, a full service exhibit design and fabrication firm out of Dublin, Ohio to aid and assist with the formation of a Master Plan.

Danville City Council will also talk about the Pine Street Storm Drainage Project. It's expected to cost about $200,000 and be finished in two phases. The project will improve the existing system which is causing flooding to properties of low income families. They say the storm sewer system was constructed parcel by parcel as the homes were constructed in the early 1900's.  As a result, this system is inadequate for the flow of water it receives.  The system receives runoff from the Danville Museum Fine Arts & History at 975 Main Street, as it flows down to Chestnut Street and into this system.

As a result of the system inadequacies, structures on the south side of Pine Street have received extensive water damage.  There are visible water stains on the side of 819 Pine Street where the water levels have risen against the house.  Where the system is present under homes there is extreme moisture and rot.  Those lucky to have the system running in rear yards have not experienced as much structure damage, but have suffered from the lack of a usable rear yard due to the moisture.

The Roanoke County School Board meets tonight where they will elect a chairman and vice chairman. This comes ahead of the January 12th regular board meeting and work session to go over over the Governor's Budget Proposal.

Martinsville will swear in three newly elected City Council members during a meeting this morning. Kathy Lawson, Chad Martin and Sharon Brooks Hodge will take the Oath of Office. After that there will be calls for nominations for Mayor and Vice Mayor. They will then enter into a closed session for discussion of a public contract and legal briefings.

Pittsylvania County will elect one of seven representatives as a new chairman of the Board of Supervisors at its meeting tonight starting at 7. A vice-chairman will also be elected.