Bridge may be done, but more construction sits on horizon

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After just over five months of reduced traffic flow and the shaking of Sparks Hall, the Courtland Street Bridge construction project was completed ahead of schedule.

On Thursday, Oct. 4, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) Commissioner Russell McMurry and Atlanta Regional Commission Board of Commissioners Chairman W. Kerry Armstrong spoke at the ceremony and congratulated the efforts of the construction workers and administrative staff alike.

“My parents met just down the street which is now the campus of Georgia State … and I met my husband just across the way at the law school so I’m going to call this sacred ground that we’re standing on today,” Mayor Bottoms said.

She said she was proud of the efforts of GDOT and other involved parties during the expedited construction.

“We know that there is lots of discussions in Atlanta about what we are doing about traffic and improving our roadways, and there’s no better example than to have a project of this magnitude completed in the heart of downtown to show that we are serious and we are intentional about improving commutes in our city,” Mayor Bottoms said.

The bridge project designers and other parties involved used a unique construction plan called the Accelerated Bridge Construction plan. It allowed the builders to finish the bridge about a month ahead of schedule.

Slated for November, the bridge actually was completed sooner than other projects of its type. Normally, it would take close to two years to complete a project of this size and magnitude.

Ramesh Vakamudi is the vice president of facilities for Georgia State. He said they were told the bridge would take two years to complete after an initial 10-year delay.

“We first heard about this project in 2006, and the project got delayed due to some funding constraints at the time. Come to 2010-2011, the City of Atlanta stepped in and installed safety nets under the bridge … and by 2016 the project started moving,” he said.

McMurry said he expects the new bridge to stand in Atlanta for at least another 100 years, which is about as long as the previous bridge stood.

After more congratulations and words of encouragement, the ceremony concluded with Pounce, Georgia State’s rowdy mascot, cutting the ribbon alongside the mayor and other officials. A local high school marched down the bridge to a celebratory array of songs.

On Friday, four days before its official opening, the bridge saw cars and pedestrians alike traverse across its newly poured asphalt.

Now that the bridge is completed, Sparks Hall has a bus stop like it did before the demolition began. Students had previously been crowding in front of Langdale Hall between classes and many complained about the difficulties of operating just one stop.

Students had expressed concerns of the overcrowding outside of Langdale, with the Student Government Association and Georgia State’s transportation and parking department taking the lead on how to address those concerns.
As construction ends for the Courtland Street Bridge, Kell Hall’s demolition sits on the horizon so enjoy the peace and quiet while it lasts.