What if the Railroad Park had a Trestle?
As I wrote about in the past, the Railroad Reservation Park is fast becoming a likely reality… but the current design is firmly planted on the southside of the railroad tracks that bisect the center of the Birmingham city center. As noted in the posting from this Wednesday, I just returned from a chamber trip to Nashville. While there, when we drove through the Bicentennial Park in downtown, my eyes came to rest on the railroad trestle (shown at the right courtesy of another website) allowing the park to flow from the steps on the capitol building to many blocks north of the railroad. This bright white trestle instantly caused me to pine for such a structure in downtown Birmingham.
I did some research and learned that the railroad tracks through this section of town were raised up in a “grade separation” project begun in 1928. Grade crossings now include viaducts to the east of 20th Street and underpasses or “subways” to the west. At the point where the proposed Railroad Reservation Park exists, both ends of the park are bounded by streets that pass THROUGH the railroad berm with little grade change at the base. In fact, access to the Amtrak passenger platforms is through a set of “ground level” tunnels from the north side of the tracks in the main station.
The UDA design team behind the City Center Master Plan wants to somehow logically link the south and north sides of the track. Wouldn’t it be great to have a visual connection between the two sides by taking a portion of the berm away and replacing it with a large bright white trestle such as shown above from Nashville?!? The structure would span where 15th and 17th Streets would otherwise intersect the tracks. This would be created by punching a hole through the retaining walls built 75 years ago and replacing the dirt berm with a load-bearing steel structure.
Here’s a quick and dirty mockup, blending a satellite image with a cropped version of the photograph above:
I starting my lobbying effort with Renee Kemp-Rotan in the Mayor’s office to consider this idea within an hour of seeing the Nashville trestle. This blog entry is yet another salvo in my effort. Please consider making this an issue every time you attend a meeting about the development of this park!