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Thursday, August 23, 2012

UPDATE: Mitchell Street bridge - not just for zombies anymore!

UPDATE: Yesterday I spoke with Mark McKinnon of the GA DOT, who told me that the bridge had been redesigned from one-way into a bi-directional roadway with bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides. Hours later, GA DOT press secretary David Spear sent out a press release saying the new bridge "features three lanes (one-way eastbound as is Mitchell St. in this area). It has a parking lane on the south side; sidewalks and a bike lane on the north side." I called both Spear and McKinnon to confirm. Spear says the release is correct (McKinnon didn't return my call). I'm swinging by on my way home to verify, but for the time being, consider yourselves updated.


Old view of Mitchell Street - this bridge swings both ways now, baby.
  • Google Maps
  • Old view of Mitchell Street - this bridge swings both ways now, baby.
More than four years and $8.5 million later, the Mitchell Street bridge finally reopened to the public today at 11 a.m. The bridge straddles the Gulch, a vast expanse of railyard and parking lot south of Philips Arena, and connects Northside Drive to Downtown and Castleberry Hill. Originally built in 1924 around the original railroad junction that gave rise to Atlanta, the bridge was rebuilt in 1940 and then closed indefinitely in 2008 after being deemed structurally unsafe.

A year later, state officials decided to channel millions in federal stimulus funds to rebuild the bridge. It would take another year for construction to actually begin in July 2010.

The new bridge has been reconfigured from a one-way eastbound thoroughfare into a bi-directional roadway with bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides. Mangum Street, which crosses Mitchell just before Castleberry Hill and wraps around the Georgia Dome to the north, will remain closed for the time being while DOT officials work on syncing the traffic lights. Elliott Street also remains closed to traffic, but only until tomorrow. According to DOT spokesman Mark McKinnon, there are people parking in the Elliott Street intersection that are currently being given notice of the road's imminent opening to traffic.

STB member Emory McClinton holds the scissors for this mornings ribbon cutting, with Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall and Central Atlanta Progress President A.J. Robinson on either side. Grainy photo submitted via Word Doc.
  • WORD97
  • STB member Emory McClinton holds the scissors for this morning's ribbon cutting, with Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall and Central Atlanta Progress President A.J. Robinson on either side. Grainy photo submitted via Word Doc.

The bridge got something of a soft opening Aug. 8, when city officials asked the DOT to open the bridge to relieve traffic congestion following a downtown event. "The structural components and paving of the bridge’s construction were complete at that time; all that was left to do were a few punch-list items that [were] being finished as weather allows," G-DOT press secretary David Spear said in an email. "... Our actions were to assist that community, the City, and the Atlanta Police Department in clearing traffic as quickly as possible. We never would consider allowing any activity on our system that was 'hazardous' on compromised public safety."

The reopening should come as welcome news to surrounding neighborhoods and businesses, particularly those on Mitchell Street's downtown side as well as those in Castleberry Hill and Vine City, frustrated by restricted access and roads that were simply left as dead ends in 2008 when the bridge was closed.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This post has been updated with information about the Aug. 8 use of the bridge.

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