Posted: Tuesday, October 16th 2012 at 5:51pm
Gainesville Pedestrian Bridge dedicated
By Marc Eggers Staff
GAINESVILLE – Against a backdrop of City Hall white marble, Georgia Mountains Center brownstone, and cerulean blue skies the Gainesville Pedestrian Bridge had its official dedication Tuesday afternoon.
The ceremony took place on the City View side of the gleaming white span that crosses Jesse Jewel Parkway, connecting midtown with downtown.
Although the City View side is currently a vacant lot city leaders expressed high expectations for future development of the site, possibly including an office complex and a major hotel with conference center.
"The construction of this bridge changes the landscape of our city forever," said Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan. "And because of this we are confident that this is the bridge to the future."
Originally the project had been scheduled for a September, 2011, completion; however, the catastrophic failure of a railing system on the 17th Street Bridge in downtown Atlanta caused the Department of Transportation to suspend all bridge construction until the cause of that collapse could be determined, inspections could be made on all bridges under construction, and upgraded railing systems could be designed and installed.
Project Manager Barclay Fouts said that was a major setback, particularly in light of the fact that construction was nearing completion.
"Everybody was wondering as they would drive by the bridge every night why nothing was going on." Fouts explained.
"It was hard to explain...it was frustrating that it dragged out and delayed the project so long," Fouts added.
The bridge has been in use since August 31 when Mayor Dunagan and his two grandchildren, 6 year-old Mills Lothridge and 5 year-old Bella Dunagan, crossed the overpass as the first official pedestrian traffic.
City View investor Wendell Starke of Gainesville said people ask him, "What sort of art work will adorn the completed bridge?"
"I tell them to take a look at the bridge and you'll see that it is the greatest piece of art in Hall County."
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