We can picture it now, families strolling the wide flowing stretch of Bridge Street while friends lounge near the stage, listening to live local music and other folks just hang out, chatting or taking in the view looking back at the Suspension Bridge and ALICO across the river – a view that was underappreciated for too long.
That’s how far along the Bridge Street front porch project is, we can picture all of it. The project, which City Center Waco has been shepherding since 2018, is expected to be finished in Fall 2021.
Since 2018, plans have been crafted to transform Bridge Street into a “festival street” dedicated to hosting events that draw the community together. This “festival street” will run from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Mann Street, converting a total of three blocks into a hub for people to gather.
Today, much of the pavement has been poured, some of the seating has gone in and the stage is up. There will also be trees, art, colorful crosswalks and a dedicated plaza. Recently, the City of Waco agreed to help establish a safe crosswalk on MLK Jr. Blvd which will invite folks who walk the Suspension Bridge to continue on into East Waco to explore Bridge Street.
“It creates energy in a spot that didn’t have energy before,” City Center Waco Project Coordinator Michael Carpenter said about Bridge Street, which had been largely unused for years.
The intent of the Bridge Street Project is to cultivate a space that reflects the heart and soul of East Waco. City Center Waco started the project by convening focus groups of neighborhood members to speak into the planning of such a space. They described their neighborhood as a “front porch neighborhood”, a sentiment that the Bridge Street Project seeks to reflect. With the “front porch style” seating areas, the plaza, and so on, Bridge Street will become a place where everyone feels welcome to swing by, take a seat, and stay for a while.
Carpenter, who worked closely with the Elm Avenue Steering Committee that spoke in to the Bridge Street Project, said he’s glad to see it come to fruition.
“I’m excited because it’s something new and needed at the same time,” Carpenter said. “It adds value to the area and offers more space to do cool things.”
Carpenter said Bridge Street is also special because it reflects the desires and the atmosphere of neighborhood residents, with its adequate seating providing space to stop and spend some time and its stage, an invitation to fill the Elm Avenue area with live music and entertainment.
Many thanks to the Elm Avenue Steering Committee, Walker Partners, RBDR Architects, Barsh Construction and the City’s team for their significant contributions. Stay tuned for news of a grand opening celebration in the fall!
-Emmy Johnson contributed to this post