Crowd cheers as Brown Avenue Bridge finally reopens

After years of waiting, 26 months of construction and $5.6 million in funding, the Brown Avenue Bridge reopened today to the applause of more than 100 people gathered there.

Georgia Department of Transportation board member Sam Wellborn served as master of ceremonies and introduced Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and Columbus Councilor Mimi Woodson, whose district includes the bridge.

Wellborn outlined more than $40 million in transportation projects currently going on in Columbus, and said few would better serve their areas than the bridge that connects Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Cusseta Road.

“Columbus has a lot of great blessings,” Wellborn said. “There are more good things going on in Columbus than ever before.”

Tomlinson said the reopened bridge will not only reconnect two neighborhoods, but it should help facilitate economic development in the area.

“Look at what we can do when we come together,” Tomlinson said. “This is only the beginning. Because this road project is the kind of thing that makes redevelopment and investment happen. So remember this day as the day that started the neighborhood renewal. That’s really what we’re here celebrating today.”

Woodson, who said she has been pushing for the project for almost a decade, said it was worth the wait. She also echoed Tomlinson’s prediction for better times because of the bridge.

“South Columbus, I know it seems like it took forever, but if you close your eyes and think where we were 20 years ago,” Woodson said. “Remember where we were, look where we are, and look where South Columbus is going. “

Wellborn also took advantage of the opportunity to thank voters for their recent support of the education special purpose local option sales tax, and before that, the TSPLOST. Between the two, Columbus will see an unprecedented amount of capital investment.

“When you take the approximately $330 million from the TSPLOST, and then the $192 million that we just approved two weeks ago, almost a half a billion dollars are going to be spent in the next eight years, in our city,” Wellborn said. “I dare say you can’t find another city anywhere in America, especially our size, that has this kind of capital investment being infused in one city.”