RALEIGH, N.C. — A pedestrian/bike bridge is starting to take shape on the Beltline near Wade Avenue, but it is coming with a $3.8 million price tag to taxpayers.
At 660 feet long and 12 feet wide, the bridge will be the only structure spanning the Beltline specifically for bikers and walkers.
"I believe this project is the most exciting thing to happen in the city of Raleigh in the last decade," said Sig Hutchinson, of the Triangle Greenways Council.
Bikers, walkers and greenway activists are excited about the new bridge.
"How many people are actually stuck in traffic trying to get to a gym to ride a stationary bike? Here is an alternative to get people out of their cars on these greenways and enjoying the beautiful region we live in," Hutchinson said.
Construction on the bridge started last November, and it will not be completed until this November. Reaction to the bridge and its high cost has drawn mixed opinions from motorists.
"[It's a] bad idea in this economy. We don't need to be wasting money, not talking about people who ride bicycles or whatever, but I think that's a little far-fetched right now," one motorist said.
"I think it's a good thing. It keeps people safe out of harm's way, keeps them off the road and makes it a lot easier for traffic," another motorist said.
WRAL has received dozens of e-mails on the bridge project. Some people question the cost while others question the length of construction. One issue that some critics raise is that stone work might be a little pricey on the bridge supports.
"It's not real rock. What it is is it's simulated rock facing and it's actually concrete, which is poured into forms and then it's colored and textured to give the appearance of rock," said Boyd Tharrington, an engineer with the state Department of Transportation.
Raleigh and the state are sharing the cost of the bridge.