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Money for Augusta Convention Center pedestrian bridge stalls on 4-4 vote

Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013 8:14 PM
Last updated 8:35 PM
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Augusta is no closer to having a pedestrian bridge across Reynolds Street downtown after a motion to deny funding the bridge failed 4-4 Tuesday.

Commissioner Marion Williams, who made the motion to deny, said a similar failed December vote on the project should have stood. The bridge was to connect Augusta Convention Center, also known as the TEE Center, with a new parking deck.

“We had already turned it down last year, and they wanted to still approve the moneys. We don't have the conventions or the people coming through right now, and I couldn't support that effort to spend that million dollars,” Williams said. “If business picked up, we can always go back and do it.”

Commissioners voted in favor of adding the bridge in August during management contract negotiations for the parking garage, but did not allocate the remainder of sales-tax dollars associated with the project to it.

The vote Tuesday, to deny a motion to spend $891,561 on bridge construction, failed 4-4 with commissioners Mary Davis, Joe Jackson, Donnie Smith and Wayne Guilfoyle opposed. Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson and Commissioner Grady Smith were absent.

Augusta Riverfront LLC, the firm that will operate the convention center and parking garage, requested the bridge addition. The firm shares management with Morris Communications Co., the owner of The Augusta Chronicle.

The failed vote leaves open the possibility for the bridge to go before the commission again, General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie said.

In other business, the commission also failed to approve strict new standards for Augusta taxicab companies. Williams, who also voted against the changes, said he viewed them as an effort by Augusta's largest cab company to put competitors out of business.

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AutumnLeaves
7634
Points
AutumnLeaves 01/15/13 - 09:19 pm
5
0
Half a million dollars...

There was a half a million dollar study done on something like: racial equality in business dealings in Augusta. I forget what the actual name of the study was. What was the name of the study and who paid for that?

countyman
20082
Points
countyman 01/15/13 - 09:57 pm
1
6
Prevention is the key in terms of future savings!

Why not approve the bridge today if you're going to approve it later? The motion to 'deny the funding'(key words) of the bridge failed today.

I'm positive it's going to take one of the conventioneers to get hit, or several of them to complain about the situation.

This is the United States of America where the majority of residents don't use crosswalks, or have the patience to wait for the light to change. Splost funds can only be used for certain items anyway.

Little Lamb
45867
Points
Little Lamb 01/15/13 - 10:54 pm
7
2
Disappointed

It is disappointing to see the votes of new commissioners Mary Davis and Donnie Smith. It would have been good to start off a new year without a clear racial divide over something so unnecessary for the CSRA. This pedestrian walkway is a luxury. It is for visitors. There has never been an enclosed pedestrian walkway across Reynolds St., so no one would have missed it. No one would be expecting it.

Expecting smooth streets without pot holes and without sewer manhole covers extending above the pavement to chew into your tires, however, would be things that visitors should experience before they get to walk in an enclosed, elevated hallway.

Two new commissioners from the 3rd and 7th districts. I hope they don't become the new cabal.

mosovich
799
Points
mosovich 01/15/13 - 11:02 pm
9
2
This is crazy..

I mean, it's not like the street is eight lanes across.. Plus, how busy is that street.. Why not use a crossing guard when there are events or like MCG on Laney Walker, a cross walk in the middle of the street.. I'll be a GREAT crossing guard for $800K.. Plus, how often would the bridge be used, as in how many days a year or how many events a year.. There are SO many other area's Augusta could use this money..

itsanotherday1
42901
Points
itsanotherday1 01/16/13 - 12:11 am
8
2
+1 for Marion Williams. I

+1 for Marion Williams. I have to give the devil his due in this case; he is right. If the the demand proves out, then build it. This thing has shaped up as a white elephant so far, so moving with caution on further expeditures is commendable.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 01/16/13 - 12:39 am
7
1
Thank you

Commissioners Mary Davis, Joe Jackson, Donnie Smith and Wayne Guilfoyle for voting NO.

Common sense has won the day, despite an attempt to rewrite history in a memo.

Save the Million we 're already hurting now for $$$$$.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 01/16/13 - 05:33 am
7
2
Couldn't they just find some

Couldn't they just find some way to recycle and refabricate the chute they used to dump $100 million of Augusta citizens' tax dollars down?

Riverman1
83642
Points
Riverman1 01/16/13 - 05:37 am
8
1
They won’t give up

They won’t give up. Next, there will be an offer if the million dollar bridge is approved to build a black convention center in Laney Walker, offer free weight loss surgery to county employees and their wives and give the concession to a couple of Commissioners to patrol the walkway and work the electronic sign with Marriott approved advertising. Whatever the Marriott wants, the Marriott gets.

Riverman1
83642
Points
Riverman1 01/16/13 - 05:42 am
5
0
Open Curtain, Vote Was to DENY Funding

Open Curtain, wasn't the vote to deny funding? Correct me if I'm wrong, but they voted against denying the money, thus leaving it open for funding later. So I wouldn't be thanking Commissioners Mary Davis, Joe Jackson, Donnie Smith and Wayne Guilfoyle for "voting NO."

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 01/16/13 - 08:10 am
1
0
Riverman1 drop me a line (email)

I have something worth looking over that relates to this.

Little Lamb
45867
Points
Little Lamb 01/16/13 - 08:27 am
4
1
Marion Williams Motion

City Administrator Fred (What, me worry?) Russell placed the item on the agenda, and his wording was in the affirmative, i.e., that money be appropriated to build the bridge.

Once the meeting got underway, Marion Williams made the motion, but he made it in the negative, i.e., that money to build the bridge be denied. Therefore, Davis, Guilfoyle, Jackson and Smith voted against Marion Williams’ motion to deny funding.

The real heroes were Fennoy, Lockett, Mason and Williams.

GnipGnop
12218
Points
GnipGnop 01/16/13 - 08:29 am
6
2
Will that 800k walkway....

become a 4.3 million dollar walkway? Who is getting the money in their pockets? When is the commission gonna tackle the real issues like over taxed South Augusta citizens caught in an illegal tax scheme? Unfair trash tax? Coming soon...that's right a rain tax for people that have ditches that isn't even on their property. Augusta is a up and coming town alright....NOT!

seenitB4
86829
Points
seenitB4 01/16/13 - 09:32 am
6
1
Common sense..where did it go..

When the crowd demands a walkway..build it then....do you have the crowds now....nooo don't think so....do you have many other problems now...well yeh...

Are we responsible for every jay walker all over the county....I would think the crowd at Masters would deserve walkway across Washington.... NOW that's a crowd..

yesiwill
78
Points
yesiwill 01/16/13 - 11:16 am
5
0
Charlotte's bridges are a disaster for Downtown

When you shuttle people straight to their cars they do not interact with the business's downtown. We want visitors/conventioneers to walk around and spend money Downtown, that is one of the main selling points of having the convention center.

Little Lamb
45867
Points
Little Lamb 01/16/13 - 11:46 am
1
0
Committee

The Augusta Commission has created several committees, each comprised of four commissioners, in order to facilitate city business and to avoid having full commission meetings bog down. This TEE Center falls under the Public Services Committee. The four members of the Public Services Committee are Corey Johnson (chairman), Wayne Guilfoyle, Grady Smith, and new member Marion Williams.

In the second week of January, this committee had its first meeting of the new year. Here is what Susan McCord wrote in her article covering that meeting:

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.”

How much direction do you need, Fred? This notion for a bridge has failed at least two committee votes and has failed at least two full-commission votes.

It's time to give it a rest, Fred!

There needs to be a rule that when a motion fails, the matter cannot be brought up again for at least a whole year. It's an insult to the public to bring up issues month after month just hoping for lapse in judgment. Do you remember when Corey Johnson accidentally voted yes for privatizing the golf course, then asked for a do-over when he realized he voted not as he intended? I think Grady Smith also goofed up one of his votes and wanted a do-over.

It's time to stop this. Let your 'yes' be yes and your 'no' be no and then move on. Don't keep bringing things up over and over just because you didn't get your way.

Thethirdjq
214
Points
Thethirdjq 01/16/13 - 12:02 pm
2
0
In the 60's and 70's the city

In the 60's and 70's the city of Atlanta was bridge crazy and built a significant amount of pedestrian bridges above the street in downtown. People could walk to parking without ever touching the sidewalk, or interacting with a panhandler. Great idea right? Sidewalks became ghost towns, corner shops struggled and the transportation via car was strengthened. Fast forward to now and the city of Atlanta still struggles with correcting the problem and getting people walking downtown. They have spent considerable amount of time and money debating and tearing down the pedestrian bridges soaring over the street.

If Augusta wants to spend a million to build a pedestrian bridge, I would suggest building one under or over Calhoun Expressway. Someone is going to be killed very soon as there is a need for one now.

TrulyWorried
14069
Points
TrulyWorried 01/16/13 - 04:21 pm
2
0
Reynolds Street Overpass

If, and I say "IF" they were to ram this idea through I only hope they will build it high enough (will probably required another expensive study) so it will not be the fiasco that the Olive Road underpass caused for many years. (How many still remember??) Spend the money where it is needed, ladies and gentlemen, on roads that tear up our cars.

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