A pedestrian-friendly, artistic renovation of the Peachtree Street bridge was on track to be completed by the end of April, but has been stalled by the I-85 collapse.
The bridge, which connects Buckhead and Midtown, is undergoing a beautification project led by the Midtown Alliance and Central Atlanta Progress. The $3.5 million project is adding 30-foot white arches bearing the word “Peachtree.” It will also improve pedestrian safety by adding lighting and sidewalks with a wall separating the pedestrians from cars, Midtown Alliance President Kevin Green said.
“We wanted to make it more comfortable for pedestrians because it is a pretty harsh environment,” Green said of the heavily-trafficked bridge. The feedback he has heard on the pedestrian improvements has been positive.
Surveys the organization has done have found that Midtown residents rank pedestrian safety highly, Green said, so they wanted to address that in this project.
The project was close to being completed before the collapse of I-85 drew it to a standstill. The Midtown Alliance decided to temporarily stall the project to open the lanes closed by construction and help ease traffic congestion. The group did that voluntarily in coordination with the Georgia Department of Transportation before Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed issued an executive order April 10 prohibiting all routine construction work for the same reason.
Green doesn’t know yet when construction will resume or when the project will be completed.
“We’re all trying to understand how to adapt,” Green said.
Other than the arches, the bridge project includes other cosmetic additions, such as colored lighting and letters along the side of the bridge that spell out “Peachtree.” The Midtown Alliance and CAP completed the Downtown Peachtree Street Bridge in October 2016, a similar project that included a pedestrian barrier, lighting and bridge fencing.
The bridges were funded through a Gateway Grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation, the Woodruff Foundation and the Downtown and Midtown Community Improvement Districts.
Midtown isn’t the only area seeing their bridges change from bare industrial sights to places with artistic sculptures.
Groups like the Midtown Alliance are trying to make barren urban landscapes reflect better on the city, Green said, and bridges often come to the forefront because they are seen as gateways, especially for iconic streets like Peachtree.
Peachtree Corners city officials have proposed several designs for a new pedestrian bridge in a busy section of the city. Pedestrian safety is the main reason for proposing the bridge, Judy Putnam, communications director for the Gwinnett County city said.
The designs are quite dramatic and artistic and some citizens have wondered why the city couldn’t save money and build a simpler bridge, which the mayor responded to on the city’s website. “By building more than just a walkway, we have the opportunity to create a distinctive landmark that will serve the community well for years to come,” Mayor Mike Mason wrote.
The bridge is also seen as a way to contribute to the city’s economic development by bringing in business, the mayor said in the post.
There are also three bridge beautification and traffic improvement projects in the works in Cobb County and two completed in Gwinnett County.