The W.C. Holmes Bridge, crossing the Intracoastal Waterway on Alabama 59, may soon see a new addition. City development has allocated $7,500 in analysis of the bridge, to determine whether a pedestrian and biker walkway would be feasible, and if so, what the potential cost would be.
City officials point out that this addition is not a typical construction project. Adding a walkway to an existing structure will mean many factors need to be considered, such as traffic, safety, and
effective use of limited space. With these considerations, it is not possible to determine in advance a reliable cost. A new building added to the area, for example, has precedent, so the costs can be easily predicted based on past experience. This endeavor, however, will require in-depth investigation to determine if the costs will be reasonable before official plans can be made.
Once the investigation of the structure has been completed and it can be determined with reasonable certainty what costs can be expected, the city will be applying for a TIGER grant to help fund the addition. TIGER grants must have estimations of costs listed on the application, so the preliminary estimate will play a key role.
Many ships and barges pass beneath the W.C. Holmes Bridge daily en route to delivery destinations along the Intracoastal Waterway. The addition of a walkway to the bridge would no doubt provide a wonderful attraction for the area, providing visitors and pedestrians with the unique opportunity to see the waterway and its traffic from above, a view previously impossible. A safe pedestrian and bicycle passageway would provide a wonderful backdrop to photos, giving the area the ability to offer the bridge as a local attraction.
Moreover, the passageway would connect the east and west sides of the downtown areas, literally bridging the gap for local commerce. If the bridge, which is the centerpiece of a larger proposal, becomes a reality, there will be renovations performed on either side of the waterway to make them more pedestrian and customer friendly. Additional pedestrian paths will be added, and the connectivity the bridge provides could unite the region’s businesses and allow them to expand, creating a marketable area for shoppers and diners to frequent.