Two pedestrian bridges cross the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids, MI. The blue railroad bridge that connects GVSU’s Pew campus to downtown, and the former Interurban train line that used to carry passengers across the Grand River and eventually on to Muskegon (if my history is correct). I ride over each of them quite often as low traffic alternatives through downtown.
If all goes smoothly, there could be a third in 2010.
This retired bridge connects the Black Hills neighborhood with the west side of GR. It creates easy access to the future park to be developed at the Butterworth landfill site (the big brown spots directly to the west of the bridge) and Kent Trails. This trail will connect south to the Plaster Creek trail, and will eventually provide a connection all the way from Wyoming to Kent Trails and Millenium Park. There is the long-term possibility of the riverside trail on the east side connecting south from Fulton all the way through the City of Grand Rapids facilities down to this trail, allowing easy, riverfront access from downtown to the Butterworth Landfill and Kent Trails.
Existing pedestrian bridges in green, the new bridge is in yellow.
I was told that the city currently has this project out for bid. If the city receives a bid within their budget (this could be a big if, and one of the major roadblocks to the project), they will proceed with the renovation through next year, with project completion likely in the summer of 2010. There are some issues with lead paint on the bridge that will need to be addressed by the contractor.
This project provides an important link across the river in an area that doesn’t have a lot of options for conveniently crossing the river by bicycle or on foot. I can’t wait for it to be done!