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Downtown’s Northside Drive pedestrian bridge project cost surpasses $33M

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Critics of the project say the bridge is now “even more of a monument to the arrogance of certain local leaders”

A rendering of the new Mercedes Benz Stadium bridge at night.
A rendering shows what the bridge looks like at night.
Courtesy of CPL

Advocates of smart city planning were already up in arms to learn the sparkling, serpentine pedestrian bridge over Northside Drive downtown was believed to cost about $27 million.

The bridge had previously been estimated to run the city $23 million.

Now, however, public financial records published by the City of Atlanta indicate the project cost substantially more than that.

According to Atlanta’s Open Checkbook—a program Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’s administration launched to increase government transparency—the pedestrian bridge has cost upwards of $33 million since late 2016.

The urbanist bloggers at ThreadATL say the newly revealed figure makes the bridge “even more of a monument to the arrogance of certain local leaders than it was before.”

The project had been marketed by city officials as a means of connecting the Vine City community with downtown, specifically Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

It was also billed as a must-have for high-traffic events like Super Bowl LIII.

That being the case, some urbanists, downtown dwellers, and visitors were befuddled when the costly bridge was closed to the public during the big game in February.

The Atlanta City Council had even approved extra spending for the bridge sepcifically so it would be ready for the Super Bowl.

The controversial bridge’s construction also complicated the Renew Atlanta bond program, as around $19 million of bond premiums were used to pay for the project, which wasn’t on the Renew Atlanta project list to begin with.

That’s part of the reason city officials had to go back to the drawing board and remake the Renew Atlanta project list.

Many transportation infrastructure improvement projects didn’t make their way back onto that list.