Officials released a sneak peek at a proposed pedestrian bridge for the Atlanta Falcons’ new Mercedes-Benz Stadium this week.
The planned bridge, which will stretch from the Vine City MARTA station over Northside Drive to the stadium, is part of the city’s efforts to increase walkability and reduce traffic.
Public Works Commissioner Richard Mendoza said city officials are now soliciting bids from companies to complete detailed engineering plans for the bridge, which is expected to break ground next summer and open in mid-2017.
It’s too early to know a final price tag for the bridge, he said, but the city has budgeted $8 million for the project. A city spokeswoman said it will be paid for out of the general fund.
Mendoza said the bridge is the result of meetings city leaders held with neighborhood groups during the planning stages of the Falcons stadium.
“One of the concerns and issues brought up by the community was that we don’t have that inter-connectivity anymore to Centennial Olympic Park,” he said.
The partially enclosed bridge seeks to restore that connection to Vine City and English Avenue, while promoting pedestrian safety along Northside Drive, he said.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said he hopes it will also encourage Falcons fans to take MARTA to games.
“While a lot of folks might not take MARTA to the game today, we believe that, at a future time, when people have to deal with the traffic and congestion and as downtown becomes more dense, people will,” Reed said.
Reed said the bridge, a 15-feet-wide by 110-foot-long swirling structure, was designed to complement the nearly $1.5 billion retractable roof stadium currently under construction.
The bridge adds to Atlanta’s already sizable contribution to the stadium project, set to open in 2017. Some $200 million from bonds backed by Atlanta hotel-motel tax revenue is going toward construction. Hundreds of millions in additional hotel-motel tax money will go toward maintaining, operating and financing the stadium over 30 years, the exact amount depending on tax collections.
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