It’s the University’s most well know billboard; a surefire way to publicize your event or just get your voice heard. It’s a member of the 116, 117, 118, and 119 “Things to do before you Graduate” list and will surely be on more to come. Paining Beta Bridge is one of those things every UVA student is bad to do. In the grand scheme of things, this is one of the most sustainable ways to promote events because there are no paper fliers or posters used in the process. Because of its location, Beta Bridge is also one of the best ways to reach a large number of people through the least amount of effort.
So why are we talking about Beta Bridge?? The problem is runoff. Beta Bridge is in a prime location right off of Rugby Road. This creates a runoff problem if people do not take these issues into account. For instance, if the bridge is painted right before a rainstorm, the paint that hasn’t dried will run off into the Rivanna River and other local streams. Paint contains toxins that are not good for the health of the river and the organisms that live in it. This is not just a localized problem. The Rivanna River flows through Charlottesville and into the James River which contributes to the water running into the Chesapeake Bay. Another issue that is associated with Beta Bridge is littering. Those who paint the bridge, often at late hours of the night or early hours of the morning lazily through their used paint brushes and rollers over the bridge and it not the river. Once again, this is a problem downstream as well and is seen in many other parts of the Rivanna (I can attest to this from experience participating in other local stream clean-ups).
Here’s the fix. The Storm water task force at the University of Virginia has taken on the challenge of changing the way people thing and advocating for responsible painting of Beta Bridge. This can be done through relatively simple steps. The first step to take is check the weather! If you are planning on painting the bridge, do not plan to do this during a time when rain is on its way. Acrylic paint takes at least 2-3 hours to dry so keep this in mind before painting! The second step is to clean up after yourself! It might even take less effort to throw your paint brush into the nearest trash can than pitching it all the way over the bridge. The third tip is to use the paint locker installed by the bridge for your extra paint. You can help your neighbor by providing the paint they need to check off items on their UVA to do list and help the environment by keeping paint out of the river. It’s a win-win!