Mayor Karl Dean’s planned pedestrian bridge at The Gulch faced a setback on Tuesday. The Metro Council voted to put off acquiring land for the $15 million project downtown. It‘s not clear when the Council will revisit the plan.
The bridge is designed as a landmark with a 200 foot tall, leaning tower as a support. It also features a winding walkway that would stretch over the CSX Railroad and connect Pine Street in the Gulch to 10th Avenue South at Cummins Station in SoBro.
Opponents of the plan, Councilman Phil Claiborne among them, described the 700-foot bridge as little more than an elevated sidewalk. Claiborne said he couldn’t rationalize such an expensive project to his constituents when he had trouble getting paved walkways for them.
“I cannot go back to my district and justify to the people that brought me here—elected me to sit here and represent them—that I’m going to spend $15 million to build 700 feet of sidewalk when I can’t even get sidewalk in my district.”
Construction on the bridge was expected to start this year and finish in fall of 2015. The Council had already included the project in its budget.
Councilwoman Erica Gilmore said she understood the complaints, but defended the project. Gilmore represents the area where the bridge will be built. She said the Gulch is seeing an influx of millenials who are already more dependent on pedestrian and bicycle transport than on cars.