Many times, when we think of transportation improvement projects, we think about the experiences of people in their cars. Where things get interesting is when you consider what else these projects can accomplish besides moving traffic along (a noble goal in itself, fellow commuter).
Take the renovated Encore Parkway Bridge, celebrating its one-year anniversary this summer. The project is part of a Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) plan, which the city of Alpharetta developed in partnership with the North Fulton Community Improvement District and the Atlanta Regional Commission.
The project, which widened the bridge while adding bike/ped lanes and a landscaped median, was designed to improve connectivity for cyclists and pedestrians in the area, which includes popular destinations like Verizon Amphitheatre and North Point Mall. It also provides a connection to the nearby Big Creek Greenway.
These days, the bridge is clearly a lot of fun for a morning bike ride…
Taking a spin across Encore Parkway Bridge.
But there’s more to this LCI project on metro Atlanta’s north side.
Transportation Fix as Beauty Fix
The span’s Tennessee sandstone, landscaping and lighting create street-level appeal as it connects commercial developments on the east side to residential areas on the west.
When they cut the ribbon on the new bridge last summer, officials used those scissors to then slice up a photo of the span as it used to look, a story that state Sen. Brandon Beach loves to tell. “And let me tell you,” he said, “I had forgotten how ugly that old bridge was.”
Transportation Fix as Economic Fix
The bridge is part of a larger plan, focused on remaking the retail district around North Point Mall, according to Kathi Cook, Director of Community Development for the city of Alpharetta.
Cook says the larger plan will “create crucial connectivity that will allow the district to migrate away from a car-dominated culture to one that is focused on walkability, interaction, and memorable experiences.”
Transportation Fix as Attitude Fix
The success of the new bridge has already shifted the local mood, according to Sen. Beach. “It’s created this bike-friendly, pedestrian-friendly atmosphere, and it’s serving as a catalyst and inspiration for developers to include pedestrian-friendly amenities as we go on.”
The bridge’s improvement plans, first set in motion more than a decade ago, were jump-started by a $4 million LCI grant from ARC.
What’s Next ATL, produced by the Atlanta Regional Commission, is a community resource that explores how metro Atlanta is growing and changing, and how the region is addressing its most pressing challenges.