In 2009, the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency (GCRA) sought to recast the Depot Avenue Rail-Trail pedestrian overpass into a more functional and iconic gateway feature. The new bridge designed by RS&H features a simulated railroad track twisted into a vibrantly colored DNA strand spanning US HWY 441/SW 13th Street. RS&H also designed a plaza and staircase adjacent to the overpass were designed to link the rail-trail system to an extensive network of multimodal access points and connects neighborhoods, businesses, and medical research facilities near the University of Florida.
The project’s sustainable features include the recycling of the demolished pedestrian cover structure, preservation and adaptive reuse of the existing bridge superstructure, use of recyclable aluminum for the new pedestrian cover, and an environmentally friendly powder coating process instead of paint. The landscaped terraces beneath the bridge create an urban rain garden that filters pollution, recharges groundwater, improves water quality, and reduces erosion and runoff. At night, the structure is illuminated with LED lighting, which creates a striking entrance into the city.
There was strong collaboration and all stakeholders played a significant role in championing the project through a comprehensive visioning, planning, design, permitting, and construction process. Ultimately, the project converted an unattractive, blighted, and poorly functioning pedestrian overpass into artistic and functional infrastructure.
Read more about the story behind the project in the Florida Landscapes article, “A New Twist for an Old Bridge.”