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Glorious 'Freedom Bridge' Vision Near L5P has New Life

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A handful of intown residents (several of them movers-and-shakers) are breathing new life into the long-abandoned vision of the "Freedom Bridge," a pedestrian and bike connection over the perilous intersection of Moreland Avenue and Freedom Parkway. A Facebook page — "Freedom Bridge ATL" — surfaced this month to advocate for "a graceful pedestrian bridge to link the eastern and western portions of Freedom Park, and to end vehicular dominance of an intersection in the heart of our people-powered neighborhoods." The page, which quickly garnered nearly 900 "likes" — because that's the modern-day barometer of value! — is the work of seven well-meaning residents. They include: Ryan Gravel (you know, the guy who invented the Beltline), Don Bender (the old guard developer who played a huge role in revitalizing Little Five Points) and Ken Edelstein (longtime Creative Loafing editor and current president of the Candler Park Neighborhood Association). The goal of the group, Edelstein said, is not to "demand" anything, but to start a conversation.

That conversation is a deserving one. The intersection in question can truly be a nightmare for cyclists and pedestrians, and it leaves a pain-in-the-arse gap between Freedom Park, its PATH Foundation trails and the sidewalks and roads leading down to the Beltline. Edelstein says it's been "a glaring oversight" from the get-go.

"We're just trying to get an idea, get a feel for how people support it," Edelstein said. "Early indications are that people are very supportive of it. The question would then be, so if they support it, trying to figure out … the practical issues, various hoops, funding possibilities."

In other words — the hard part.

A quarter of a century ago, such a bridge was actually proposed for the site, but according to a recent PATH Foundation Facebook post offering support to Edelstein's group, "neighborhoods surrounding this intersection were against any infrastructure that resembled the road being planned through Freedom Park." This, understandably, was in the middle of the fight to prevent a highway from being built in the area.

The PATH Foundation post also included a rendering from the originally proposed bridge, described as a granite-clad, tree-lined path curving elegantly over Moreland Avenue. For his part, Edelstein said he'd like to see "some sort of real architecture," a structure that "folds space" between the surrounding neighborhoods while welcoming folks into Little Five Points. "Wouldn't it be cool if there was this really artistic bridge there?" he said.

It's not the city's most pressing issue. But yeah, a functional statement piece would probably be cool right there.

— By Curbed Atlanta contributor Tyler Estep

· Freedom Bridge [Facebook page]
· Highlights from 1980 Video on Candler Park's Gentrification [Curbed Atlanta]

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