Atlanta Projects Rethink Role Of City’s Bridges | WABE 90.1 FM

Atlanta Projects Rethink Role Of City’s Bridges

May 12, 2016

Some cities have bridges that are considered iconic and even draw tourists: San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, or maybe the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

Atlanta’s bridges, on the other hand, don't usually receive much attention, even from the city’s residents.

But that might be changing, according to Rosser International architect and Curbed Atlanta editor Michael Kahn.

In an interview with WABE, Kahn pointed out that most of Atlanta’s bridges were built over the expanding interstate system in the second half of the 20th century. Their purpose then was utilitarian: to get cars from one end to the other.

Today, however, Kahn said business and community leaders are rethinking a bridge’s purpose, by incorporating amenities for pedestrians and cyclists and also making them architecturally interesting. 

One example, he said, is the North Peachtree Bridge redesign spearheaded by the Midtown Alliance and Central Atlanta Progress. It’s now under construction.

“That’s adding lighting, arches, planters, making the bridge more pedestrian friendly, more bicycle friendly, and really acting as a gateway to the northern side of the city on Interstate 85," Kahn said. "So you’ll know you’re crossing under Peachtree when you come down the connector."

Kahn said that project and others underway point to a new future for bridges in and around Atlanta.

“I think we’re recognizing that bridges are an omnipresent component of the urban fabric of the city, and a very prominent feature of the city considering the width of our interstates throughout the core of the city," Kahn said. "So now we are trying to address those in the same way that we addressed the street, that we address buildings, that we address all of the things that make up our city. And say that yes, OK, they’re serving a utilitarian purpose but also they can provide for a range of aesthetic options.”