Mayor Kasim Reed has issued a statement supporting the pedestrian bridge over Northside Drive at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“The new bridge over Northside Drive is an idea whose time has come, one that holds great promise for the City of Atlanta as a connector between downtown and our historic Westside communities,” Reed said.
The mayor said the new bridge over Northside Drive linking Westside neighborhoods to Downtown Atlanta is a “major example of an essential infrastructure piece that will improve – and possibly save – residents’ lives.”
“The bridge will offer a safe crossing of Northside Drive, which for years has been a dangerous barrier preventing easy passage from the Westside to Downtown’s economic and cultural opportunities.”
Reed also brushed off critics who have complained the bridge is simply for use by Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the future home of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United soccer team.
“Some critics of the bridge fail to see the big picture, preferring to focus narrowly on its connection to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. They ignore the fact that the Falcons organization chose the current site of the stadium specifically because of its unmatched access to MARTA. It also has broad implications for our city’s future development and the impact felt on game days and during other special events. By making transit to the stadium a more pleasant and accessible experience, this bridge will ease the impact of more than 70,000 people and their cars coming into surrounding neighborhoods during stadium events.”
Reed also shot back at media coverage of the bridge: “Recent press coverage of the proposed bridge has also failed to mention the institutions we have established with private partners, in order to ensure that the money going to the community is being spent ethically and transparently. After the Georgia Dome was built, more than $100 million was deployed in grants to community groups on the Westside. More than 95 percent of those grants were defaulted on. One of those groups was led by the same man quoted in a recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution article for being opposed to this project. Things have changed this time around, and not in his favor.
“When it comes to the Westside, the whole is greater than its parts. The Northside Drive pedestrian bridge is one component in a strategic portfolio of improvements that is moving the needle for residents of Vine City and English Avenue.”
The Atlanta City Council has authorized up to $12.8 million for design and construction of the bridge. The total cost has not yet been finalized.
“I am convinced that the Northside Drive bridge will be a vital and beautiful lifeline whose impact extends far beyond Mercedes-Benz Stadium on one side of the road and beyond the Vine City MARTA station on the other,” Reed said in conclusion. “It will provide our residents and visitors with a path to opportunity and unprecedented reach deep into the heart and soul of Atlanta.”