Known mostly for paving over everything in sight, the Georgia Department of Transportation has surprised its critics by spending $10 million to retrofit an interstate bridge into a mini-park connecting the Georgia Tech campus.
"Atlanta's newest park is planted in quite a place: 17 feet above Downtown Connector motorists. There is nothing else like it in the state, say Georgia Department of Transportation officials. The Fifth Street Bridge, officially finished today, has more than tripled in size as it spans I-75/I-85 downtown, giving the feel of a garden rather than a bridge, and adding no additional car lanes."
"Instead, a department that has often been accused of favoring road capacity over all other projects spent $10.3 million building the foundation for a sort of mini campus quad, connecting Georgia Tech's main campus to its new buildings at Technology Square, providing a new main entrance to the university, and serving the mixed-use revival that has exploded on the east side."
"It's not what DOT is used to building...Whether or not the look is replicated in other bridges is less certain. 'Anything we can do to get people walking and get them out of their cars, that's better for everybody,' said DOT chairman Mike Evans."
"But with transportation funding currently shrinking as congestion chokes Atlanta, he said, 'it would be a little difficult for me to start a project like that today, understanding what our financial constraints are.'"