The city of Atlanta, in anticipation of hosting Sunday’s Super Bowl, wasted a whopping $23 million on a pedestrian bridge for football fans that will now be blocked off for the big game because of security risks.
The bridge — which was initially supposed to cost $13 million — connects Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium and a public transit station. It was intended to allow tens of thousands of fans to easily access the stadium without having to cross four lanes of vehicular traffic.
The project cost blew up by additional $10 million when city officials began fearing that the lavish bridge, equipped with stunning LED lights and other cosmetic enhancements, wouldn’t be finished in time for the game.
Although it was completed on time, authorities in charge of stadium security have now closed the bridge to the general public after it deciding the span’s proximity to the stadium entrance was a security risk, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“This event has been categorized by the federal government as a Special Event Assessment Rating (SEAR) Level 1,” an Atlanta spokesperson told the newspaper.
“The FBI and NFL in consultation with other security partners made the determination to close the bridge to the public ahead of the event. However, the bridge will be open for attendees to exit at the conclusion of the game.”
The bridge will instead only serve Super Bowl staffers and credentialed media, while the rest of the fans will have to pass multiple security checkpoints and roads well outside the stadium area.
The closing of the bridge for the general public was criticized by activists and social media, who see it as another example of the city wasting taxpayers’ money on vanity projects that can’t even be used for the purpose for which they were intended.
Lauren Welsh, an Atlanta activist, slammed the officials and the bridge, writing a post for his ThreadATL blog, “that’s how the City wants to impress out-of-town visitors. Not with our civil rights legacy, our cultural icons, our southern soul food, our urban tree canopy, or our welcoming diverse people.”
"Instead, we believe tourists will think Atlanta is awesome because we have a snakeskin light-up bridge to cross a 4-lane road.”