Make the Drewary J. Brown Memorial Bridge a visible monument to the Bridge Builders

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Petition City Council:  Make the Drewary J. Brown Memorial Bridge a visible monument to the Bridge Builders

At the time of the death of civil rights leader Drewary J. Brown in 1998, a replacement for the West Main Street Bridge had been designed and constructed.  City Council named the new bridge for Brown and developed a program to honor others who like Brown had crossed racial, social, and economic barriers  to create a more just and equitable society -- 36 other persons have been named Bridge Builders with their names inscribed on plaques on the bridge railings.

To make the bridge a true monument to these local heroes, City Council should create improvements  as part of the West Main Streetscape Plan underway.  The City’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials, and Public Spaces called for improved visibility and appearance of the bridge in 2016.  Preservation Piedmont has also endorsed this approach in 2019.

For drivers and bicyclists, the bridge barely registers as a place, given the greater visibility of the Amtrak Train Station and nearby restaurants.  Even pedestrians must pay close attention to the small sign identifying the bridge and the metal plaques of names and dates without any explanatory signage. 

To improve the bridge, we suggest the following:

  • Placement of large memorial signs at each end of the bridge would identify this special place to pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers.
  • Identifying the bridge’s name and several Bridge Builders images on lamppost banners would draw attention to a space honoring individuals (see mock-up photo at top by Jake Van Yahres of JVY Creations).
  • Public art celebrating the Bridge Builders could be created in alcoves designed for this purpose by the bridge architect Warren C. Boeschenstein, and located on the south facing the Amtrak Station and on the north adjacent to the Westhaven Playground.