published Friday, July 26th, 2013

Ringgold, contractor trying to cut bridge cost

Ringgold, Ga., officials still hope to bridge the gap between what they hope to pay for a pedestrian overpass near the historic train depot and a price tag that gave them pause.

City officials had hoped to spend $250,000 to install a pedestrian bridge over U.S. Highway 41 to make it easier and safer for people to get to and from the depot, a popular event venue, and a 52-space, city-owned parking lot on the south side of the busy street.

Six contractors expressed interest, but only one bid on July 2 to do the work: Chattanooga's Raines Brothers Inc., which asked for $368,500.

"We thought it was too much money," said Mayor Joe Barger, who supports the pedestrian bridge concept.

City Council members voted unanimously Monday to table -- not reject -- the project to see if the cost could be cut. The city's architect Ross Andrews and Marvin Cornelison, president of Raines Brothers, met Wednesday.

"We found some things that we can do," Cornelison said. "We're doing everything we can to try to get there."

Still, cutting costs will be difficult for the 53-foot, 8-inch, steel and concrete span that would be installed in a tricky location since it's over a busy state highway and next to the CSX railroad tracks.

"They dictate what you can do and what you can't do," Cornelison said of CSX. "They're not flexible. The only thing they care about is protecting their railroad."

Cornelison thinks city officials expected to pay too little for the bridge.

"I don't think they had reasonable expectations about what the cost was," he said. "I'm not sure we can get to a number we can live with."

His firm has experience installing pedestrian bridges on Chattanooga's Riverwalk and in East Ridge.

City Council plans to revisit the issue at its Aug. 12 meeting.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

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.

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