It's taken 14 months and cost the city and federal governments over $12.7 million to restore and retrofit the First Avenue bridge in Banker's Hill. For those 14 months, while construction crews were removing the old lead-based paint and slapping on a fresh coat, traffic down First Avenue was cut off at West Palm Ave. and Nutmeg, a relief for many residents living along the Banker's Hill corridor.
On Monday, February 22, at 10 a.m., Mayor Jerry Sanders, councilmembers Kevin Faulconer and Todd Gloria, Nancy Moor, president of the Hillcrest Business Association, and Leo Wilson, chair of the Bankers Hill/Park West Community Association, will hold a press conference to reopen the freshly painted, 79-year-old steel truss arch bridge to traffic. The morning and evening commutes from uptown to downtown on First Avenue will resume and impacts from traffic and noise from MTS busses and semis will reverberate through Maple Canyon once again, bouncing off the walls of area mansions and high-priced high rises.
For many residents of Banker's Hill, the 14 months that the bridge was closed should have been dedicated to calming traffic on the First Avenue thoroughfare.
At a February 4 meeting of the First Avenue subcommittee, a part of the Banker's Hill/Park West Community Association reiterated the concerns in regards to the heavy flow of traffic.
"Traffic safety measures...such as stop signs, crosswalks, etc., should also be placed on First Avenue," read the subcommittee's recommendation. "This will prevent traffic from being diverted to First Avenue from the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Avenue corridors. In considering First Avenue, it must be remembered the historic First Avenue Bridge was not designed to withstand the stress of a major flow of traffic traveling over it."
At that meeting, 20 Banker's Hill locals unanimously passed a motion, recommending the placement of two stop signs on First Avenue, at the intersections of Quince Street and Nutmeg as a way to calm traffic down the busy street.
The subcommittee agreed to discuss the traffic safety issues on First Avenue at their March meeting, once they have had a chance "to monitor and observe the impacts resulting from the opening of the First Avenue Bridge on February 22."