Charlotte is like a lot of other cities that are focused on the health of its residents. One of the ways they have focused on this is with transportation, specifically walking and cycling. There are now miles of rail trails and greenway that connect through the city to the surrounding suburbs. There are some gaps in the system where it can be dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists when they have to cross interstates. One of the worst of these locations is from the Rail Trail in South End trying to connect to Uptown with the dangerous crossing of I-277.
Currently, cyclists and pedestrians wanting to get to Uptown from South End or vice versa have to climb up a flight of stairs, then walk down a sidewalk on busy Morehead Street and cross a bridge over the highway on Tryon Street. This is the only option to connect the 3.5 mile rail trail to Uptown, which discourages commuters and can be frustrating for tourists.
That is about to change. The City of Charlotte has secured the funds to complete a pedestrian and bike bridge that will span across the distance connecting South End and Uptown. This project was supposed to have been completed by now, but had to be put on hold due to funding concerns as it was a part of the original plan for the Lynx Blue Line. The restored project has now been fully funded by a combination of public and private money and is a collaboration with N.C. Department of Transportation, The City of Charlotte, and Mecklenburg County. The price of the project comes in at a cool $11.5 million.
The breakdown of the funding has the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County each contributing $3.1 million. The N. C. Department of Transportation will chip in $3.3 million. $1 million will be provided by U.S. Bank out of Minneapolis, and private funding for the remainder. U.S. Bank, new to the Charlotte area, will also be providing money for maintenance for the bridge.
Charlotte Center City Partners say design work for the bridge is set to begin this fall. A partnership between engineering firm Thomas & Hutton and structural engineering firm SBP will work on the design. Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2021 with a completion date by the end of 2022.
Connecting the two areas will allow a closer relationship between South End and Uptown. This will be another way to connect the two areas which both have vibrant nightlife scenes, major employers, shopping, and dining. It will allow easier access to sporting events, concerts, and museums. It is also a great opportunity to tie these neighborhoods closer together with events along the route. This is also a way to promote fitness in the city by allowing walkers, runners and cyclists to have a safe place to exercise. This makes Charlotte even more attractive for people looking to relocate to the area. It will be really great when the project is completed so we can have a safer way to be connected.