Commission waits to decide on pedestrian bridge

Monday, Jan. 7, 2013 7:05 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 2:24 AM
  • Follow Government

Plans to build a pedestrian bridge across Reynolds Street connecting Augusta's new convention center to a parking deck remain on hold after a committee on Monday forwarded the matter to the Augusta Commission with no recommendation.

Susan McCord
Government Reporter
Twitter: @reportr1
E-mail | 706-823-3215

The bridge was part of a commission deal to approve a management agreement for the deck, but its funding – $891,561 to $991,561, depending on what is included – hit a snag last month when only five commissioners backed it and it fell one vote short.

City Administrator Fred Russell said he added the bridge to Monday's public services committee agenda because he was “looking for some direction” after taking the price to the commission in December for a pre-approved project “as we normally would do.”

Mayor Pro Tem Corey John­son said he wasn't certain about moving forward, and moved to refer the matter to the full commission without recommendation. The motion passed 3-0, with Johnson, Marion Williams and Wayne Guil­foyle voting in favor. Committee Chairman Grady Smith was absent because of illness.

"We haven't even really had a study to show how much of an impact (the center) will have to warrant building a pedestrian crosswalk,” Johnson said.

The bridge is part of an agreement with Augusta Riverfront LLC, the firm that runs the downtown Mar­riott, the convention center and its parking deck. Augusta Riverfront shares management with Morris Com­mu­ni­cations Co., the owner of The Augusta Chronicle.

Augusta Riverfront President Paul Simon, who attended the meeting, said he had agreed to the parking deal with a lesser fee because it included the crosswalk. When the parking deck is full, the bridge would ensure safe passage of about 650 carloads of convention guests, he said.

“It's all related to getting people across that street,” Simon said. “We think it's dangerous without the bridge.”

Simon said he also hoped the bridge would include a lighted marquee sign to advertise upcoming conventions.

“Hopefully, with the influx of people that come in, we'll need two decks,” said Williams, who led the meeting in Smith's absence. "I don't see that as being a need today."

Sales tax revenue is available for the project, and building the bridge now will avoid disrupting a construction management agreement for the complex, according to the agenda item.

Afterward, Simon said he was optimistic about the bridge going before the commission next week. If it is delayed, construction costs will surely rise, he said.

“I've had so many people tell me what a good thing this is,” he said.

On Monday, the Au­gusta Metro Chamber of Com­merce announced plans for an official grand opening and ribbon-cutting Feb. 28 at the convention center, which it calls the TEE Center. The center lists 11 events booked for 2013.

Comments (6) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
TrulyWorried 01/07/13 - 09:16 pm
Pedestrian Bridge

Why not charge a toll for people using the bridge - going back and forth - should collect a tidy sum if 650 loads of guests are contemplated. They don't all come at once and there are 365 days in a year - and I still say that a traffic light with a nicely lit button (saw one light in Columbia County today that counts down the seconds available for crossing pedestrians) would be lots cheaper and make more sense.
Not too many good ideas have come out of the Marble Palace that really bore fruit.

OpenCurtain 01/07/13 - 09:58 pm
With all the back and forth on the T-Center "agreements"

I likely have gotten some wires and facts crossed.
I admit I am not sure of the correct facts any more without spending a night rereading my T-Center notes.

BUT I Think
We have a situation were River Front LLC wants a sky bridge for a Parking deck that Taxpayers built and paid for. On Land that somehow almost was accidentally not deeded over as ARC property until it was discovered by certain people. A bridge that will connect to a T-center, the Taxpayers built and paid for and pay River Front LLC to operate AT A LOSS. Which is connected to a Hotel that the Taxpayers helped fund to begin with?

Now we have Augusta Riverfront President Paul Simon, who attended the meeting, saying he'd only agreed to the parking deal with a lesser fee because it included the crosswalk he wanted for TAX PAYER PROPERTY..

It sure was nice of him to charge us less for operating, something taxpayer built and will pay for over the next 10-20 years.

Seriously What am I missing?
It can't Legally be this screwed up, can it?

TrulyWorried 01/07/13 - 11:03 pm
Open Curtain

re: Above - want to bet???

Does anyone know if that parking deck ever opened? I have not been by there lately but last time I did it sure looked lonesome - of course the lights were burning - no light bill? Every little bit could save us taxpayers a few cents.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 01/08/13 - 09:56 am
Parking Deck

TrulyWorried: The parking deck has been open for some time (way before the management agreement was signed). A person mans the booth and supposedly collects parking fees. Where the fee money was going before the agreement was signed is anybody's guess. Guests staying at the Marriott have their parking fee paid on their hotel bill. Others pick up a ticket when they pull in. Some pay a monthly fee (where that money goes, who knows?). All of these parkers have somehow managed to walk across Reynolds Street by using the brand new, ADA compliant, crosswalks.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 01/08/13 - 10:00 am
Wooden Stake

Friends, it is high time to put a wooden stake in the heart of the elevated crosswalk idea. It's not necessary, and it's too expensive for a city that truly has needs for its citizens. Put that million dollars into the bus system rathole if you'd like.

Also, the Ga. DOT has nixed the idea of an electronically illuminated sign over Reynolds St., saying it would be a traffic hazard.

Write, E-mail, call, or button-hole your commissioners and ask them to vote NO! on this enclosed pedestrian bridge.

soapy_725 01/08/13 - 10:23 am
Next they will want an tunnel under the river

to access the baseball stadium and multi use amenities in N.A.

curly123053 01/09/13 - 10:08 am
What Augusta needs to be

What Augusta needs to be looking at is the feasibility of erecting pedestrian bridges along major highways. I have been taking the Gordon Hwy to work since 2006 and almost daily you see somebody climbing over the concrete barriers to get to the other side. This is especially true in the areas from New Savannah Rd to Deans Bridge Rd. Those areas can use at least 2 as some of these pedestrians are endangering themselves and the drivers as well. I am sure certain areas of Washington Rd and Deans Bridge, and Peach Orchard could benefit from an unenclosed pedestrian bridge.
This could get expensive but you do not build them all at one time. You use a portion of the SPLOST money to build one every year or every other year in areas of heavy pedestrian traffic along the major highways. Maybe this would help cut down on the pedestrian fatalities that have been happening lately. I see these pedestrian bridges in use in other cities, so I do not see why Augusta could not do the same. Make safety first.

Back to Top
Top headlines

Fort Gordon Warrior Transition Battalion closing

Fort Gordon's Warrior Transition Battalion, the second-largest in the Army, is one of 10 military medical units nationwide that will be closed by August 2016, as the number of sick and injured ...
Search Augusta jobs