Building a pedestrian bridge near the historic train depot in Ringgold, Ga., would cost $368,500 — significantly more than city officials bargained for — and one city councilman questions whether it's worth proceeding.
City officials opened bids Tuesday for work to install a steel span over the downtown's main thoroughfare, Nashville Street. The city wants the walkway so pedestrians can more safely get between the depot and a city-owned, 52-space parking lot just south of the busy street, also known as U.S. Highway 41.
Six contractors came to a June 13 pre-bid conference but only one submitted a bid Tuesday: Chattanooga-based Raines Brothers Inc., which offered to install the bridge for $368,500.
"It's definitely more than we were hoping," City Councilman Nick Millwood said.
City officials had hoped the bridge could be installed for $250,000, Millwood said.
The Catoosa County Commission has allocated $150,000 from 2009 special purpose local option sales tax revenue to help Ringgold pay for the pedestrian bridge.
Once that $150,000 was subtracted from the $368,500 bid price, "we would be on the hook for about $218,000," Millwood said.
The City Council will consider what steps to take next at a meeting within 30 days, a city news release stated Wednesday.
"We'll get together and talk about it," Millwood said. "But I think there's probably some better uses for $218,000 than that pedestrian bridge."
Councilman Terry Crawford, a staunch supporter of the pedestrian bridge, declined comment Wednesday.
Ringgold-based architect Ross Andrews, who designed the bridge for the city, hopes to get a detailed cost breakdown from Raines Brothers to see if there's some way to reduce the price.
Installing the walkway is tricky, Andrews said, since it would be over a busy highway and next to a working railroad track. That means negotiating with the Georgia Department of Transportation and CSX, the railroad company. There's not much room to work, he said, and to perform construction tasks such as drilling piers to support the bridge.
"It's a challenging situation," Andrews said. "The actual bridge itself is not that [expensive]."
The unpainted steel span would be built off site and set into place.
Andrews designed it to support 150 pounds per square foot -- well above the required 85 pounds -- with the expectation that it would be used for things such as viewing parades on Nashville Street.
The historic train depot, which sustained damage during Civil War fighting, is a popular spot for events such as concerts and weddings.
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@times freepress.com or 423-757-6651.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.