During our twenty years of trail building, we have erected over fifty bridges and built several tunnels to connect destinations separated by roads, rivers, and railroad tracks. In our quest to provide seamless trail-travel, we have recently helped make a few special connections that will serve to make Atlanta a friendlier place for non-motorized travelers.
On November 23rd, Cobb County will host a ribbon cutting ceremony for the refurbishment of Hermi’s Bridge on the Chattahoochee River at Paces Ferry Road. The effort to restore this old road bridge alongside Paces Ferry Road was spearheaded by architect Cecil Alexander as a tribute to his wife, Hermione Alexander who died in 1983. Cecil, who is 92, will help cut the ribbon and welcome guests at the event.
Hermi’s bridge was named after Hermione who embraced the bridge decades ago and persuaded the County not to demolish it when the existing Paces Ferry Road bridge over the river was erected.
Cobb County and the federal government provided the lions share of funding to bring the bridge up to bike/pedestrian standards. Removing lead paint and repainting the bridge was a big ticket item during the restoration. Your donations to PATH were used to build a trail from each end of the bridge to Woodland Brook Road and Lovett School.
The metro area is divided into thirty some-odd sections of land surrounded by the rivers, interstates, and major rail lines that crisscross the area. If you think about it, the bridge over Norfolk Southern Railroad and I-85 near the Amtrak station is the only way for cyclists and pedestrians to cross from one island to another for miles in each direction.
We recently made a connection between two of these islands when we finished the boardwalk canopy under CSX between Ardmore Park and Tanyard Park. Your donations to PATH were used to build this structure, which was negotiated over a five-year period with CSX. The $160,000 structure is designed to tread lightly on the creek environment and protect trail users from debris falling from the trestle above.
The canopy was designed to withstand the impact of a fifty pound object falling from the trestle above.
The Atlanta BeltLine Authority was instrumental in helping PATH secure the necessary easement from CSX in order to erect the structure. The City of Atlanta Parks and Recreation Department were also very supportive during the process. It was your donations to PATH that made the connection possible!
Likely the most unique bridge PATH has ever built can be found deep in the forest known as the Morningside Nature Preserve. The Morningside Cable Bridge connects a labyrinth of nature trails between Lenox, Wildwood, and Wellbourne Roads over the South Fork of Peachtree Creek.
A few years ago, the 33 acre forest was slated for development. Neighbors, lead by Rochelle Routman and Susan Robinson raised enough money and support from the City and the Nature Conservancy to buy out the developer and have the property designated as a preserve. Former Atlanta City Council members Cathy Wollard and Ann Fauver helped find funding to install nature trails and other improvements. Georgia Power worked with the neighborhood to build a trailhead on Lenox Road when their substation was constructed. Everyone worked together to retain the forest as a special place for future generations.
The one thing that was missing was a way to cross the creek which meanders through the 33 acres from Lenox Road almost to Cheshire Bridge Road. The newly formed Morningside Nature Preserve Steering Committee met with City officials for the purpose of finding a way to bridge the creek. Former Parks Commissioner Dianne Harnell-Cohen allocated a portion of Transportation Enhancement funding for the project and reached out to PATH for help.
In 2009, PATH agreed to provide about one-third of the funding and create a design for the bridge that would require minimal intrusion during construction and meet the criteria established by regulatory agencies for bridging urban waterways. The Morningside Cable Bridge over South Peachtree Creek was completed in October, connecting trails from Wellbourne Road to the trailhead on Lenox Road. A dedication of the bridge is currently being planned by the neighborhoods surrounding the forest.
These are all special connections that will soon be taken for granted. Only a few folks will know about the tedious negotiations that took place such as the ones between neighbors and developers and PATH and CSX that made these connections possible. Thanks to everyone who helped make these projects a reality.