Maxine Herring Parker Bridge

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Council President Maxine Herring Parker Bridge (also called Maxine Parker Memorial Bridge, originally the Finley Avenue flyover or Finley bypass) is a vehicular and pedestrian bridge connecting Finley Boulevard to Fred L. Shuttlesworth Drive in the Collegeville neighborhood. Before the bridge was constructed, Finley Avenue terminated U. S. Highway 31 at 27th Street North.

Construction of the 3-lane, 1000-foot bridge over two sets of Southern Railway tracks ended the problem of Collegeville being completely cut off from the rest of the city by at-grade railroad crossings. Though relief had been promised since the late 1960s, no concrete progress was made for decades. Environmental impact studies of various alternate proposals for a Finley Avenue extension were published in the early 1980s, but it wasn't until 2000, when an elderly couple died in a house fire while a fire truck waited for a train to pass, that community leaders took on the challenge themselves.

Neighborhood president and later Birmingham City Council member and president Maxine Herring Parker championed the project, urging the city to fund a design and engineering study and to pass a council resolution in support of the proposal. When federal stimulus funds for road and bridge projects became available during the Great Recession, she lobbied U.S. Representative Artur Davis in April 2009 to bring the proposal forward. Davis secured a $10 million commitment of stimulus funds. She also gave Governor Bob Riley a tour of the affected area to win his support.

Early proposals included separate vehicular and pedestrian bridges, but those were combined during development of the project. Construction was expected to begin as early as 2011, but was delayed as the design evolved. The project was dedicated in memory of Councilor Parker following her death in December 2013. Her son, William Parker, was appointed to fill her seat on the council and also assumed the mantle of leading the bridge project.

Bell & Associates of Brentwood, Tennessee was awarded the $8.3 million construction contract for the $10.13 million overall project in February 2015. A ceremonial ground-breaking was held on April 8 of that year and, after months of delays, the completed bridge was dedicated on June 13, 2017.

The bridge is the first phase of a $32 million project to continue Finley Boulevard along the southern edge Collegeville to Alabama Highway 79 near East Lake Boulevard. No time frame has been set for the later phases of work.

References

  • MacDonald, Ginny (July 6, 2009) "Alabama Department of Transportation sets first public meeting on three plans for proposed Finley bypass." The Birmingham News
  • "Birmingham City Councilwoman Maxine Parker's legacy may be Finley Boulevard flyover to rescue Collegeville neighborhood." editorial (July 18, 2009) The Birmingham News
  • MacDonald, Ginny (July 24, 2009) "Finley flyover plans draw interest from Collegeville." The Birmingham News
  • Bryant, Joseph D. (May 30, 2014) "Making it official: City and state leaders join to dedicate upcoming Birmingham railroad overpass." The Birmingham News
  • Bryant, Joseph D. (February 2, 2015) "Building the bridge: State awards $8.3 million contract to erect Birmingham vehicle, pedestrian overpass." The Birmingham News
  • Bryant, Joseph D. (April 8, 2015) "Railroad overpass construction, park renovations to be highlighted with North Birmingham ceremony." The Birmingham News