The East Avenue bridge over the Inner Loop will be closed, starting Monday, March 14, as work continues on filling in a portion of the sunken expressway.
Traffic will be detoured around the bridge that runs from Union Street to Pitkin Street.
Demolition of the bridge is the next step in a three-year project that started in November 2014 to remove part of the Inner Loop to create sites for new development on the edge of downtown.
The project, called the Inner Loop East Transformation Project will convert a sunken 2/3-mile section of the expressway that encircles the downtown area to an at-grade boulevard with landscaping and bicycle and walking paths.
Charlotte Street, which had been divided by the Inner Loop, has been reconstructed and now extends from Alexander Street to Scio Street. Broad Street has been reconstructed as an at-grade street, which eliminated a bridge over the old Inner Loop.
The Monroe Avenue bridge over the Inner Loop also will be removed and replaced with an at-grade street. That work will be scheduled after the East Avenue phase is completed and open to traffic, hopefully later this spring, according to city officials.
The project is intended to restore the connection between residential neighborhoods and the downtown area that was lost when the Inner Loop was opened in 1958. Several public meetings have been held to explain the project and gather comments.
The total project cost is about $21 million. About $16.8 million is coming from a federal grant. Another $3.8 million is coming from the state, and the city is spending $414,000.
Maintaining the portion of the Inner Loop in the project area would cost more than the cost of filling the loop and creating the new boulevard.
The project is expected to make open about six acres of land around the new roadway available for mixed-use development. The new development will generate new local tax revenues, create jobs, and generate private investment. The benefit-to-cost ratio of this project is estimated to be between about 2 to 1, according to city officials.