UPDATE: 3:40 p.m., February 17: A long-awaited, pedestrian-only replacement for the 1906 old Nelson Street bridge between downtown and Castleberry Hill is officially open to the public as of today, according to Centennial Yards officials.

The 500-foot bridge, painted in greens and blues, includes a landscaped plaza, potted trees, and seating areas. It marks the finish finished new-construction project at the 50-acre South Downtown megaproject. “This is terrific news for the city,” A.J. Robinson, Central Atlanta Progress president, said in today’s announcement. “The new bridge will bring more pedestrian activity, more economic impact, and better access to our premier sports and entertainment facilities. No doubt about it, it’s a much needed amenity for the community.”

Talk to business owners and residents around Castleberry Hill and South Downtown, and they’ll tell you it’s been weeks since construction crews were doing any significant work on a new pedestrian bridge that provides a crucial link between neighborhoods. By all indications, from a layman’s perspective, the project looks complete.

Still, the Nelson Street bridge remains off-limits—and exactly why isn’t clear.  

Following a site visit this week, we checked with City of Atlanta officials for updates on when fencing might come down around both ends of the bridge. An Atlanta Department of Transportation spokesperson responded: “The Nelson Street bridge is not a [city] project. This bridge is owned and is being constructed by the CIM Group.”  

A CIM Group representative said earlier this week an update on the bridge’s status would be compiled and supplied to Urbanize Atlanta on Friday. As of late this afternoon, that hadn’t materialized.

Gates blocking access to the new Nelson Street pedestrian bridge, as seen this week near Wild Leap Atlanta. Josh Green/Urbanize Atlanta

Developers associated with the 50-acre Centennial Yards megaproject bordering the new bridge had previously predicted it would open for public use last November and then in early 2023. The bridge project broke ground in November 2021.

Off-limits to cars, the stylishly landscaped and lighted structure replaces a failing, circa-1907 bridge that was closed six years ago following inspections by City of Atlanta engineers. CIM Group previously tore down the deteriorated structure.

New landscaping and seating on the Castleberry Hill side of the bridge. Josh Green/Urbanize Atlanta

The bridge branches off Ted Turner Drive next to the new Wild Leap Atlanta brewery, continues between the Centennial Lofts buildings, crosses active rail, and terminates near Smokey Stallion, a barbecue restaurant by former NFL quarterback Cam Newton and his family.

Lined with public seating and potted trees, the bridge was designed by the Steven & Wilkinson firm, while Perkins + Will served as landscape architect. Have a closer look at how it turned out—though you can’t yet cross it—in the gallery above.


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Downtown news, discussion (Urbanize Atlanta)