MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new pedestrian bridge at the University of Memphis opened Wednesday, carrying students high above automobile and railroad traffic along Southern Avenue.
University President David Rudd cut the ribbon and joined the first crowd across the bridge Wednesday at 3 p.m. The Tigers marching band led the procession.
The entire project, including a multi-level garage that replaced surface parking on Southern, cost between $35 million and $38 million, Rudd said. It was paid for with a student fee that has generated about $20 million since it was initiated four years ago, he said.
For decades, students have complained about safety concerns surrounding the train line on the south side of campus, and traffic on Southern Avenue. Students have been known to crawl between train cars when the train stops in front of the school.
The cable-suspended bridge will improve the connectivity and residential feel of the campus, Rudd said. The U of M has traditionally been a commuter school but several new apartment projects have gone up around the campus in recent years.
The bridge and parking garage are the latest campus projects to open, but the university has more coming, including a wellness center on the south side of campus, a $40 million music performance space on Central, a proposed science center and a realignment of Patterson Street at the railroad tracks.
"They'll be building over here for the next four or five years," Rudd said.