Ledger Inquirer

Update on Front Avenue, which is closed from 13th to 14th streets

Fourteenth Street roundabout opens

The new roundabout in the Frank Martin Pedestrian Bridge Plaza has opened to traffic.
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The new roundabout in the Frank Martin Pedestrian Bridge Plaza has opened to traffic.

Roundabout to Nowhere.

How can you not open an email with a subject line like that?

I got an email with the intriguing subject line last week from a Concerned Reader named David, who is interested in knowing when the long-closed stretch of Front Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets might be reopened. Part of his concern is that the city’s shiny new roundabout at the foot of the Frank Martin Bridge is getting practically no use.

“Any idea when Front Avenue under the 13th Street Bridge will be opened to the public to use our newly minted roundabout on 14th Street?” David asked. “With all the new and exciting construction projects planned and happening on Broadway those of us who work on Front Avenue could really benefit from the opening!

“The road appears to be clear except for the construction fence and some portable barricades with the construction firm using the street as a private parking lot. Please work your magic and get this fixed!”

I’m low on magic this week, David, but I’ll see what I can find out.

It’s funny David should mention people who work on Front Avenue because it’s people who work on Front Avenue who own that stretch of road and the land on either side of it. Yes, the W.C. Bradley Co.

The stretch of Front was initially closed in the late 1990s and ceded to Pillowtex, which owned the mill the 13th Street Bridge went through. When W.C. Bradley eventually bought the mill, the property, including the street, came with it.

The area has since been used as a staging area for many downtown construction projects, including the Chattahoochee RiverWalk and whitewater. In fact, some parts of it are still being used as such.

The city’s engineering director, Donna Newman, told me the city is still negotiating with Bradley over the details of the city reopening the stretch of Front.

“We’re still negotiating with the Bradley Co. to determine the specifics,” Newman said. “There will be development there, so they will have to have access. That’s what we’re going over.

“We have to determine how much we’ll control and maintain.”

Newman said when the stretch of Front is initially reopened, the road will be paved and striped, but the city won’t finish the stretch with curbs and gutters initially. That will have to wait until W.C. Bradley develops the land between the bridge and TSYS.

“You don’t want to put all that in and then have heavy equipment rolling over it,” Newman said.

Newman couldn’t say when the street might reopen, but W.C. Bradley Real Estate Division President Mat Swift said he expects it to open in a few weeks.

The Bradley Co. intends to develop the land, Swift said, and then the stretch of Front will be finally finished up.

Then Bradley will turn the street back over to the city, Swift said.

Meanwhile, at least for a few weeks, the city has the distinction of having the world’s only pedestrian roundabout. Remember, yield to the guy on your left.

Seen something that needs attention? Contact me at 706-571-8570 or mowen@ledger-enquirer.com.