Before it was even built, the Bagley Avenue Pedestrian Bridge was bestowed with an American Institute of Architects Detroit Honor Award for design (un-built category). It was selected because it “begins the process of mitigating the highway’s [I-75] devastating cut in the urban fabric. Monumental without overstatement. Demonstrates a commitment to an evolutionary design process. The design is ultimately a catalyst for change. We look forward to seeing substantial in-fill at the bridge’s touchdown points to truly knit and reconnect the urban fabric."
Rising 150 feet from the freeway below it is a landmark visible from the Ambassador Bridge and other points in the city. The cable-stayed bridge is part of the Michigan Department of Transportation's (MDOT) $230 million I-75 Gateway Project, and is the first such structure in the state. The 407-foot-long structure spans I-75 and I-96, two of southeast Michigan's busiest freeways. According to the MDOT, the bridge serves to reunite Mexicantown, one of southwest Detroit's oldest neighborhoods, divided since I-75 was built in the late 1970s.
The bridge was designed by inFORM Studio, a design based practice with offices in Detroit, Michigan, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and New York City. It was chosen as the winning entry in a national design competition for the MDOT Ambassador Gateway Project. The contractor, Toebe Construction, is a leading heavy/highway contractor in the state of Michigan specializing in bridges, including complex, bascule, moveable, and cable-stayed structures.
"The pedestrian bridge is a significant part of the Gateway Project and its purpose goes beyond lending aesthetic beauty to the neighborhood," remarked MDOT Metro Region Engineer Tony Kratofil during the opening day – appropriately, on Cinco de Mayo this year. "It is an investment in Mexicantown and southwest Detroit that will improve mobility, safety and quality of life for residents. This bridge...will help increase commerce by supporting the more than 600 businesses in southwest Detroit. It will attract new businesses, spur economic development, and support Detroit's $5 billion-a-year tourism industry by encouraging travelers to visit the Detroit Welcome Center, the Mexicantown community and attractions throughout the city and state."
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