Many local officials and Rutherford County’s state legislators joined with MTSU leaders Thursday to celebrate the official naming of the Bridge Over Broad as “Blue Raider Bridge.”
The $22.8 million bridge connects Memorial Boulevard to Old Fort Parkway while running above Broad Street. Construction began in January 2014. In mid-March 2018, the bridge opened for all traffic lanes, Middle Tennessee State University said. The overpass opened earlier in December 2017.
Coming up with a name other than Bridge Over Broad itself took time.
An online effort resulted in the Murfreesboro City Council taking a humorous route and proclaiming the bridge as “Bridgey McBridgeface” only for April Fool’s Day in 2018 after the name suggestion went viral online. The Rutherford County Commission voted to ask the Tennessee General Assembly to bestow the “Blue Raider Bridge” name to honor MTSU.
The university held a reception last Thursday to celebrate the name, just in time for Saturday’s first home football game of the season against Tennessee State University. Road signs will be installed bearing the new name.
During the ceremony, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee mentioned the university’s annual economic impact of $1.2 billion. He noted how the new freshman class this fall grew 14 percent and students transferring in grew 4 percent.
Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron said, “It’s been a long time coming.”
Ketron said that MTSU is the county’s No. 2 economic driver, behind Nissan. He announced the start of a fundraising drive to gather $107,000 to install blue neon LED lights on the bridge to make it a signature attraction in Murfreesboro.
Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland said he helped pick the color of the bridge’s stamped concrete and added that infrastructure investments “make a city what it is.” He told the audience to expect a number of economic development announcements in the next couple of months.