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

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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Sun, 12/04/2016 - 20:05

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