Like many roads in downtown Nashville, Division Street was severed by CSX railroad tracks, limiting connections between the booming Gulch district and neighborhoods to the east like the SoBro community. Locals who patronized nearby restaurants and businesses knew all too well that venturing east on Division Street and beyond popular establishments such as Flyte, Pour House and Frugal MacDoogal only resulted in a dead end at 7th Avenue. Gresham Smith’s extension bridge solution provides a vital connection between these previously fragmented communities while encouraging growth and redevelopment on both sides of the tracks.
Mile Extension Bridge
High-profile Urban Neighborhoods Connected
Like Threading a Needle
The proposed alignment for the project began at 8th Avenue and ended at 2nd Avenue, traversing the CSX railroad tracks along the way. As multiple buildings encroached into the ideal route for the extension, finding a way to snake the half-mile bridge through the crowded urban setting was akin to threading a needle. Our engineers met this structural challenge with a serpentine solution: take a straight steel beam and curve it—both horizontally and vertically—to impact the fewest number of buildings and businesses.
Bikes, Peds and AutomobilesResponding to a changing culture that is demanding more transportation choices, the four-lane, curved girder bridge is multimodal, allowing bicyclists, pedestrians, cars and transit to share the Complete Street. To help keep drivers and cyclists safely in their respective lanes, we used colored concrete to differentiate designated bike paths. LED delineator lights were embedded between the bicycle and pedestrian pathways to provide safe lighting and minimize environmental impact.
No More Bypassing Arteries
While creating an additional route from the Gulch to neighborhoods south of Broadway, the bridge also allows for better circulation and distribution of traffic, alleviating congestion from 8th Avenue and its signature roundabout and from 12th Avenue corridors. Another huge upshot of the downtown connector is that it provides motorists with an additional link to Nashville’s major transportation arteries, including I-40 to the east, and Murfreesboro Road and 4th Avenue to the south and east.
A New Sense of PlaceThe new bridge also provides significant economic and social benefits by spurring growth and infill development along the corridor and encouraging more active, healthy lifestyles. Connecting the bridge to the street below, a pedestrian path injects new life into street-level businesses only a 10-minute walk from the Gulch district. A new pedestrian plaza beneath the overpass creates a unique sense of place for the community.
A Complete Street That’s Good for the Environment
In keeping with Nashville’s Green Street initiative as well as Complete Streets practices and sustainable design principles, we slightly narrowed the street from 12 feet to 11 feet and 10 feet to control traffic flow and minimize impervious asphalt surfaces. Curb cuts direct stormwater to rain gardens and bioswales that filter stormwater runoff through native plantings and engineered soil layers, minimizing the amount of street pollution entering Nashville’s tributary systems.