VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. (WIAT) — The city of Vestavia Hills is making strides toward building a pedestrian bridge spanning across Highway 31.
Assistant City Manager Cinnamon McCulley said this isn’t the city’s first attempt to build a pedestrian bridge. This project is something they’ve been dreaming up for several years now.
The bridge would connect Wald Park to the public library across the street.
McCulley said city leaders do recognize the urgency and desire coming from community members for this kind of connectivity throughout the city, especially on Highway 31.
Because the city is partnering with ALDOT, she said part of this process is meeting their standards and building specifications. Matching the current aesthetic within the city is also taken into consideration.
McCulley said the project’s projected cost is $4 million. ALDOT will pay 80%, and the city will pay 20%. Although that is significantly reduced, it is still 20% of public dollars.
“It goes to our council to make sure that we’re being good stewards of our money and have their review and their approval prior to any subsequent step being taken,” said McCulley. “And so, as we go through each step of this process it’ll constantly go back to our council for their review and their input. And honestly, they are so engaged in this. They’re so excited that it is actually going to come to fruition. So, they are very eager to see all of the pieces come together.”
The city council most recently awarded a contract to Gresham Smith, leading the current architectural design drawings into the next phase.
McCulley said they’ve invested $60 million into quality-of-life projects throughout the city, but one popular request still remains- pedestrian connectivity to enjoy the outdoors and what the city offers.
One of the biggest challenges without an elevated walkway is physically crossing the highway.
“It is a large highway,” said McCulley. “It is a busy highway. It’s probably, it is, the most traveled street in the city of Vestavia Hills. It’s a pass through. We have a lot of traffic, not just from Vestavia Hills residents, but from other cities that pass through here. And so crossing the street, we have major schools, we have our public library, and just moving people from one side to the other is very difficult and dangerous, or can be dangerous without some sort of elevated walkway for them to utilize.”
Community members said they’re really looking forward to seeing this bridge come to fruition.
“Obviously, it’s one of those no brainers,” said community member Jamie Aiken. “It would make it so easy to go from the pool to the library and it connects a lot of things because the city is kind of divided crossing that road right there.
“I think it’s really important, especially since there is such a big sidewalk going down 31,” added fellow community member, Kat Powell. “That would add a lot of benefit to have all that connected together for sure.”
McCulley said they hope to move forward with a bid and construction company selection in early 2024 which will bring them one step closer to finally seeing this project become a reality.