Downtown Ringgold, Ga., will get a pedestrian bridge near the historic train depot after the City Council voted unanimously to spend $266,110 on the long-planned project.
"I believe that it's going to be a positive step in connecting the pedestrian walks around the city," Councilman Randall Franks said Friday.
The steel span will cross Nashville Street, also known as U.S. Highway 41, and connect the historic train depot, a popular spot for musical performances and other events, to an underused, city-owned parking area with 52 spaces.
"That parking area ... is underdeveloped because there is not an easy way for folks to get back and forth," Franks said.
Catoosa County has earmarked $150,000 from 2009 special purpose local option sales tax revenue to help Ringgold fund the bridge.
But the project hit a bump in the road in early July, when only one bridge installation bid came: $368,500 from Chattanooga-based Raines Brothers Inc.
Even with the county subsidy, the initial bid was too high for city officials.
But about $100,000 was shaved off the bridge's price after the Ringgold architect who designed the bridge, Ross Andrews, and Raines Brothers' president Marvin Cornelison sat down to try to figure out where they could save money.
The biggest savings involved a natural gas main and gas valve that the bridge was designed around. It turned out that the gas company has to move the utilities, so the bridge's design was simplified -- and became less pricey.
Mayor Joe Barger pushed hard for the pedestrian bridge because he said it could save a pedestrian's life.
"To me, it was needed for safety for anyone walking across Highway 41. The line of sight is short," Barger said. "It now is a very dangerous trip from the parking lot."
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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.