When Ringgold, Ga., gets a new pedestrian bridge over its main drag, Nashville Street, concrete cannonballs will adorn two of the bridge's abutments.
They'll be a nod to Maj. Samuel B. Ringgold, who's known as the "Father of Modern Artillery" for introducing the U.S. Army to concepts such as a "flying artillery" -- cannons moved quickly around the battlefield.
Ringgold is one of half a dozen towns named after the Mexican-American War hero, who died after enemy cannon fire mangled his legs.
"I kind of play it up a little bit, whether people know [about him] or not," Ringgold architect Ross Andrews said.
Andrews designed the pedestrian bridge that will allow easier access between the historic Ringgold Depot, a popular venue for events such as concerts and weddings, and a 52-space city parking lot south of Nashville Street, also known as U.S. Highway 41.
The parking lot hardly is used, Andrews said, because pedestrians must negotiate a steep grade and navigate busy Nashville Street, which lacks a crosswalk near the depot.
Andrews' concrete-and-steel pedestrian bridge will be 53 feet and 8 inches long. The unpainted steel is treated to oxidize, or rust, to a certain degree -- then it won't rust further.
"It'll look rusty," Andrews said. "It would have been an incredible expense to have [the bridge] painted. Twice the expense."
The span's safety features will include a yellow caution bar hanging below to warn truckers that the railroad bridge behind it only has 11 feet and 7 inches of clearance.
"Our bridge is going to be way up high," Andrews said of the pedestrian bridge's more than 13-foot, 6-inch clearance.
Andrews also designed the bridge's railings at 54 inches high -- a foot higher than required -- so bicyclists won't topple onto traffic below. His design also uses a solid concrete footbed with a 4-inch curb so dropped items won't fall onto the road.
Another safety feature: Andrews' design will support 150 pounds per square foot -- well above the required 85 pounds.
"I think that our bridge is going to end up being used as a viewing platform for our parades, whether we want it to or not, so I want people to be safe," he said.
The bridge plans still need approval from the Georgia Department of Transportation. After that happens, the city will put construction out to bid.
The company that's selected will haul the steel span to Ringgold, then use a crane to put it in place so the concrete walkway can be poured.
Andrews said the bridge could cost as much as $250,000 but the true amount won't be known until the bids come in.
Funding includes $150,000 in 2009 special purpose local option sales tax funds allocated by the Catoosa County Commission on Aug. 7 at the behest of Commissioner Jim Cutler, who represents Ringgold.
The city will pay the remainder from its general fund, Vice Mayor Randall Franks said.
"I think it'll be a great enhancement for the downtown area," he said. "There's been a lot of thought put into creating something that will blend with the historic look of the downtown."
Andrews said construction should take three months. Traffic shouldn't be interrupted, he said, except for the one afternoon when the bridge is set in place.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.