GREENVILLE — A trip along the newly opened portion of the Swamp Rabbit Trail through the future Unity Park shows the change that has happened and is coming — and one will soon be a sight to see.
Rising on the south side of the Reedy River through the park is an iron tower structure that will anchor one side of the Auro Bridge, a 165-foot suspension bridge that will be the main pedestrian crossing once the park is finished.
In a few weeks, once an anchor is installed on the north side of the river near The Commons, workers will be suspended in the air working on the bridge.
The work will take between six to eight weeks, city spokeswoman Beth Brotherton said.
“It’s going to be epic, because it’s going to be built on site,” Brotherton said. "We fully expect people to come in from out of town just to watch these people hang in the air and build the bridge.”
There will be a designated viewing area for those who want to witness the progress.
It's part of the $61 million vision to transform 60 acres of swampy land west of downtown into a signature park.
The Auro Bridge — Greenville-based Auro Hotels donated $500,000 for its construction — is the largest of three pedestrian bridges connecting either side of the park. The park is on schedule for its planned opening in Spring 2022.
The work widening the Reedy River to allow for a more natural flow is largely done and the ground is being prepared for a new great lawn called Michelin Green and a large-scale "sprayground" water feature. Work on a destination playground will soon begin work as equipment arrives, Brotherton said.
The project involves the creation of a welcome center on the end of The Commons, a row of renovated warehouses turned into a commercial entertainment complex. The city put a new roof over the future welcome center and is currently building a wraparound deck for more event space.
In July, a new stretch of the Swamp Rabbit Trail opened on the north side of the river. It will be a parallel stretch along the river when the original segment reopens once park work progresses.