NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) —What if things could look a little different underneath Interstate 40?

On Friday morning, Vanderbilt University engineering students Baker Harrington, Alex Holzke, Katie Reed, and Rachel Roberts presented a plan to bring new life to the space underneath I-40 near 2nd and 4th avenues.

“There’s a need in Nashville to connect parts of communities that are segregated via freeways to other areas of Nashville,” said Harrington.

For the last year, these students created a new park, filled with pickle and basketball courts, bathrooms, parking lots, and even a pedestrian bridge.

Renderings of Lafayette Heights Park (Source: Baker Harrington, Alex Holzke, Katie Reed, Rachel Roberts)

“Initially, we wanted to provide access for both sides to just pass through, but our thought was, if we provide a park in the middle, it will bring people together,” said Harrington.

Joe Mayes with the Civic Design Center has seen a lot of ideas sent his way to redevelop this space over the last several years.

“Right now, they look very empty, so how do we create something for the community?” he said.

Renderings of the pedestrian bridge underneath the I-40 bridge. (Source: Baker Harrington, Alex Holzke, Katie Reed, Rachel Roberts)

The Civic Design Center, along with engineering firm Barge Design Solutions, partnered with these students to help them bring their ideas to life.

“Both looking under and over the interstates, and how we can create different types of places and creative spaces is something we hope to do for the future of the city,” said Mayes.

Drawing inspiration from other cities like Birmingham, Portland and Boston help these students create and engineer this park design key stakeholders within the community were able to visualize.

Right now nothing is set in stone, but Harrington hopes their project could be the start in creating things the public wants using the spaces we sometimes overlook.

“We need improvements in all areas of Nashville without having gentrification,” said Harrington. “So putting in parks, putting in pedestrian improvements are going to greatly enhance the lives of people living in these areas, such as the Sudekum neighborhood.”

Mayes said the Civic Design Center’s next step will be to create ways to advocate for this type of space with city council members and other community leaders.