The city of Bessemer plans to construct a pedestrian bridge over State Highway 150 which will connect the city’s Rail-Trail system to its recreation center at Roosevelt Park.
The project is still in its preliminary design phase and is being planned in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Transportation. A public hearing on the project is scheduled for Tuesday, October 1, at 7 p.m. at Bessemer City Hall, 1700 Third Avenue North. The public hearing will be held during the Bessemer City Council meeting.
Renderings of the proposed bridge are also available in the lobby of the City Hall.
Bessemer was recently awarded federal Transportation Alternative Program, or TAP, grant funds through the state to construct the bridge. The grant funds will pay for 80 percent of the anticipated $1.2 million cost of the project. The remaining monies will come from the city.
Construction on the bridge is slated for the latter half of 2020.
Mayor Kenneth Gulley said the pedestrian bridge will allow residents who use the city’s recreation center to access the city’s burgeoning rail-trail.
“We want our residents to safely be able to go from the Recreation Center to the trail without having to navigate the traffic on the busy highway,” Gulley said.
Gulley said Bessemer is becoming a healthier city by offering residents access to amenities such as trails and recreational opportunities.
Bessemer’s Rail-Trail opened in April 2018 and sits on what once was an elevated railroad line known as the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad that ran parallel to Highway 150, or 14th Street South. The line was in operation from 1946 to 1988 when it was abandoned. CSX Railroad donated the property to the city.
A combination of federal and local funding is paying for construction of the trail, which is being completed in phases. A second phase will start later this year and will include the construction of a trail bridge over Berkley Avenue. The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham has contributed $50,000 towards the second phase of the project.
City leaders envision the trail stretching from the city’s Historic Downtown to Lakeshore Drive, where it can connect in the future to the trails in Red Mountain Park as part of the Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trails System.
The $15 million Bessemer recreation center opened in September 2016 at Roosevelt Park and now boasts a membership of more than 5,000 patrons.