Encore Bridge true gateway to Northpoint - North Atlanta Business Post
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Updated Nov 14 @ 1:05PM
 

Encore Bridge true gateway to Northpoint

$18M project provides multimodal access

DAVID BROWN/Composite photo
The new Encore Bridge is the gateway to the North Point economic zone and the Big Creek Greenway from Westside Parkway.
HATCHER HURD/Herald
Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce President Brandon Beach holds the scissors to cut the ribbon as Mayor David Belle Isle and distinguished guests watch.
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ALPHARETTA, Ga. – They cut the ribbon June 28 for the $18 million Encore Bridge on time and on budget – and the bridge is everything the North Fulton Community Improvement District promised it would be.

On the dais stretched across the westbound lane of Encore Bridge, which was closed off for the ribbon cutting, was a near life-sized panoramic screen showing the old bridge. It was a stark, two-lane crossing so narrow it dared anyone to even try to cross on foot or bicycle.

By contrast, the new Encore Bridge stands behind it with matching monument faux stone columns and two traffic lanes with a landscaped median. It also features bike lanes and cobblestone pedestrian crossings on both sides with stone protective barriers.

It is an impressive entrance indeed.

Why all the trouble and expense to remodel a perfectly useful bridge already spanning Ga. 400? North Fulton Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Brandon Beach said it is a first step looking forward to a new and revitalized Northpoint economic zone.

The North Point District must be multimodal – open to motorized, pedal and foot traffic, he said.

“What this will do is provide walkability and connectivity to the mall area and its surroundings,” Beach said.

The burgeoning residential housing going up on Westside Parkway, Alpharetta’s greenway and its new inner pedestrian loop will have a path to North Point. Oh, and its connection to Encore Parkway takes people directly to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.

Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle said when the story of Alpharetta is told, this bridge will mark a new chapter in the city’s development.

“We are so blessed in Alpharetta with affluence and job opportunities. But we have had tremendous leadership that includes city staff and elected officials,” Belle Isle said.

“Ga. 400 runs through Alpharetta like a river. With it comes growth, and Alpharetta is reinventing itself with projects: Avalon, the city center and Alpharetta’s new beltline. It’s outer and now an inner greenway.”

The two greenways will connect through Encore Bridge providing uninterrupted use of the city’s inner and outer loop.

John Orr, senior principal planner at the Atlanta Regional Commission, said this project dovetails with the ARC’s emphasis on transportation and mobility as the region grows.

“Encore Parkway is a game-changer for this area. We could see vision behind it, adding connectivity to Haynes Bridge Road and Mansell Road,” Orr said. “Encore is an important center connector as well as a signature piece of multimodal design.”

It all began several years ago with a $4 million Livable Communities Initiatives grant from the ARC.

The grant program’s goal is to incentivize local jurisdictions “to re-envision their communities as vibrant, walkable places that offer increased mobility options, encourage healthy lifestyles and provide improved access to jobs and services.”

In other words, get as many people out of cars and using other means of transit.

“This project touched every base that the LCI grant wants touched. This corridor has been transformed by this project,” Beach said. “The project is great for residents and will serve as a catalyst for economic development.”

More than one person at the ceremony recalled the wintery Jan. 4 day in 2016 when the project first broke ground and the bitter cold temperature in the teens.

Most who returned on the beautiful chamber of commerce sunny day remarked that the new bridge was truly a gateway, with two 14-foot travel lanes, two six-foot bike lanes and 8-foot protected sidewalks on either side.

Landscaped buffers flank each side and a raised, landscaped median is in the center.

A sidewalk on the east side of North Point Parkway uses shared lanes to connect the new Encore Parkway Bridge to the existing eight-mile Big Creek Greenway trail.

There, walkers and bikers can follow the concrete path running parallel to the meandering Big Creek and even connect to Roswell’s trail system down to the Chattahoochee River.

The new bridge and roadway will include streetscape features such as trees, landscaping, pedestrian lighting, street furniture and architectural bridge elements.

Construction began in January 2016. The bridge was closed to accommodate an aggressive construction schedule, but was reopened to traffic that November to accommodate holiday shoppers.

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