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Pedestrian bridge not ready yet
Workers have removed 200 feet of box culvert from the stream
Tim Chastine, of Industrial Painting in Buford, washes away dust and debris on the surface of the downtown Gainesville pedestrian bridge Tuesday morning as his crew prepares the bridge for painting this week.

Gainesville's pedestrian bridge may look almost ready for walking on, but completion is still a few months off according to project manager Barclay Fouts.

The bridge, which spans Jesse Jewell Parkway near the Georgia Mountains Center, was set to be finished by late September but some added landscaping is causing a delay, Fouts said.

He said he submitted a landscaping plan to the Georgia Department of Transportation and will have to wait for approval before beginning work.

Other work, though, has been progressing well this month thanks to the weather, he said.

"Because of this dry weather we've been able to push things along. Getting a lot done right now," Fouts said.

In mid-September, Fouts began working on about 2,000 feet of a planned greenway between Banks and High streets that would connect to the pedestrian bridge.

Part of the plans include cleaning up a stream that runs along the greenway. So far workers have been able to remove 200 feet of box culvert from the stream. They soon will add plants to the stream banks and hope to have the stream functioning naturally. Fouts said there will be a lot of water quality improvements throughout the project.

Today, workers will begin painting the bridge and likely will finish by the end of the week. Once the paint has dried, construction workers will begin installing fencing along the sides of the walkway, a process that could "take a little while," Fouts said.

For now, Fouts said he's happy with how the bridge is turning out.

"I like the bridge. It looks really nice, looks modern," he said.

The bridge is part of a city project to connect downtown Gainesville to the underdeveloped midtown area. The city has been working on improvements for the area since 2000, including creating the greenway using an old CSX rail line that will ultimately connect the downtown square to the Elachee trail system and the Rock Creek Greenway.

Some local business owners are optimistic their business will improve with completion of the bridge.

"When they started building it we called it the bridge to nowhere. Now we call it the bridge to Brad's," said Connie Bryson, owner of Brad's Grill.

Bryson said she and her husband decided to move their business to the Bradford Street location because they expected the area to start growing and developing.

Three years later, they've seen little change except for the bridge, which Bryson expects will make it easier for customers to come and get a bite to eat.

"We get a lot of people from the city offices and I feel like if they want to they can just walk over here and not move their cars," Bryson said. "I think it'll make a difference."