Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

City Council temporarily saves bridge after local support

CW / Shelby West

The Tuscaloosa City Council unanimously voted to postpone the demolition of the Veterans Memorial Parkway pedestrian bridge on Tuesday after facing backlash from residents. 

Mayor Walt Maddox and the council made the decision to demolish the bridge after some residents complained about its outdated appearance. The demolition contract with Duncan Coker Associates would cost the city around $500,000 in total. 

Maddox said it would cost the city around $2 million to keep the bridge functional in the coming decades. 

Three community members addressed the council, and over a dozen residents attended the meeting in support of keeping the bridge. Earlier this week, residents held two demonstrations urging the community to show its support for the bridge. 

Loretta Lynn, a dance movement therapist who lives in District 5, said that the bridge is an integral piece of the community.  

“It’s an access point,” Lynn said. “It’s a way for our neighbors to connect to different neighborhoods.” 

The bridge connects districts 5 and 6, and Lynn said that it’s critical for allowing residents to travel between the districts. Without the bridge, residents would be forced to cross a major intersection with no protection from cars, which Lynn said is a public safety hazard. 

Lynn also disagreed with the study that the city used to justify demolishing the bridge. The city estimated that only 30 people a month used the bridge, but Lynn said that the sensors tracking pedestrian crossings were out of date and failed to record all the pedestrian traffic.  

Marvin Lucas, a Tuscaloosa City Schools board member, also spoke in support of the bridge. Lucas suggested that the council revitalize the bridge rather than demolish it.  

“We talked about people not crossing the bridge,” Lucas said. “Why not make it pleasant enough for people to want to cross it?” 

Lucas asked the council to fund a large-scale renovation of the bridge, done in phases to spread out the cost. Lucas said he wanted the bridge to be painted and suggested that it be used to teach children about Tuscaloosa history and the Black Warrior River. 

“This can be an educational resource for our children, an educational resource for our community,” Lucas said. “There’s so much we can do with this bridge.” 

Patrick Frantom, an associate professor of chemistry at The University of Alabama, argued at the meeting that the cost it would take to demolish the bridge was an unreasonable burden on taxpayers given that the bridge is still structurally sound. 

After the three speeches, the council agreed to send the decision on the bridge’s future back to the Public Projects Committee. Council President Kip Tyner said that he regretted how quickly the council had moved forward with the demolition and that he was excited to see what could be done to transform the bridge. In two weeks, the council will vote on the bridge’s fate again. 

“Some of the greatest ideas have come from you that are here tonight,” Tyner said. “Let’s see what we can do to make this something great.” 

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