Steel bridge to be placed along new walkway in Hickory that leads to airport

It’s a story that made headlines last year -- a 40-ton arch collapsing along the Hickory City Walk. Surveillance cameras captured the arch falling near downtown Hickory at around midnight on Feb. 18.

The arches were part of walkways and pedestrian bridges the city is adding.

Now, a steel bridge will be placed above Highway 321 along a new walkway leading to the Hickory Regional Airport. Construction workers told Channel 9′s Dave Faherty the 182-foot, 80-ton bridge will be installed on Jan. 14. The highway will be closed during the installation.

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Faherty could see construction workers Thursday making sure the steel bridge with the word “Hickory” across it was ready to be moved next weekend.

Not everyone is a fan of the project, including Phillip Annas, who owns a business, Mel’s Superette, just down the street.

“I really don’t think it is going to be used,” he said. “I mean yes, there will be some people who go across it, but it is not justifiable for the money being spent.”

In 2018, the City of Hickory was awarded a $17-million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help build the 1.7-mile Aviation Walk, along with a 1.2-mile streetscape loop, in downtown Hickory.

The city said it is spending an additional $3.8 million on the project, but some residents believe it’s too much money for walkways.

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“Not taking into consideration the roads and the light poles that are just hanging -- like right over here, one hanging,” Amy Klutz said.

The Aviation Walk is one of five pedestrian walkways planned for Hickory. Along the already-completed City Walk in downtown, Faherty spoke with several people in favor of the projects and their future impact on the city.

“Hickory is growing and it’s changing and it’s a fun place to be and a fun place to live. And I think that it doesn’t get enough credit,” resident Molly Cummings said.

“it’s really an economic development tool as well as fun places to walk,” resident Dianne Straley said.

Hickory’s mayor said just this week, city council approved a new mixed-use apartment and business project along the city walk. He said the success of the project has spurred growth there.

The Aviation Walk is expected to be completed by October.

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