The Atlanta BeltLine and city of Atlanta say the 106-year-old Edgewood Avenue Bridge is teetering on becoming unsafe and must be replaced.
The 200-foot-long concrete bridge runs over the BeltLine's Eastside Trail — a former Norfolk Southern Corp. rail line — between Airline and Gumby streets.
But the preliminary detour route for the project, which is expected to take up to 18 months, is not sitting well with residents who say it will drive more traffic onto side streets and hurt business.
At a meeting Thursday night with residents of the Old Fourth Ward and Inman Park — the two neighborhoods connected by the bridge — BeltLine officials were told they'd have to rethink the detour proposal.
As it stands now, motorists using Edgewood would be detoured on a route that would take them around the bridge by taking Randolph Street to Irwin Street to Krog Street and then back to Edgewood.
But some Randolph Street residents said they already have to contend with an armada of cut-through traffic from motorists seeking to avoid Boulevard congestion to get to North and Ponce de Leon avenues.
"We already experience a high volume of traffic to the point that I can't get out of my driveway," Julia Neighbors, a Randolph Street resident, said at the meeting.
She and her neighbors, many of whom have small children don't let them play outside because of the volume of motorists who speed with impunity, she said.
Theresa Wilson, another Randolph Street resident, who lives near the Old Wheat Street intersection, said drivers blow through the four-way stop sign there and pedestrians can't count on them to slow down, let alone stop, for people in the crosswalks.
"Nobody acknowledges the stop signs," Wilson told East Atlanta Patch after the meeting. "They fly down this street."
Jonathan R. Miller, an Inman Park resident and chairman of Neighborhood Planning Unit-N, which includes Inman Park, said the detour must be revised.
"I don't think it's going to work very well," he said after the meeting. "It's going to have to be rethought."
Many residents suggested DeKalb Avenue as the alternative route or, if not, placing traffic lights — even if only for the project's duration — control traffic.
Others said more police enforcement and ticketing of speeders could send the needed message.
Catherine Owens, project manager and senior civil engineer for Atlanta BeltLine Inc. said the could study alternative detours, but that the main goal is balance the bridge replacement work with giving people access to the businesses closest to the bridge.
The plan was to begin the construction in the fall, but the project now has a target starting date of January 2013 starting date with a planned completion in the second quarter of 2014.
Work would be done from dawn to dusk Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to dusk on Saturday.
The project still needs the required permits from the city.
And because the permits being applied for are Special Administrative Permits, the Old Fourth Ward and Inman Park neighborhoods will have plenty of opportunity to give their input on the project directly and through their respective neighborhood planning units, NPU-M and NPU-N.
Some residents questioned if the bridge truly could not be repaired and was a full replacement necessary.
Bob Thompson, the project manager for C.W. Matthews Construction Co. Inc., the Marietta-based firm hired to build the bridge, said partial repair is not an option. C.W. Matthews was the firm that built the 17th Street Bridge in Midtown.
What's more, building a temporary bridge is impossible because there is no right-of-way available, Thompson said.
Owens reiterated there is no alternative to full replacement of the bridge, one of the two lowest-performing spans in the city, meaning it's on the verge of becoming unsafe.
"We're at a point that if we don't do something soon, it could be a problem," she said.
"This is the city trying to be proactive for the neighborhood and the city itself. This is not a vanity project by any means."