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Gainesville council wants bridge to Brenau
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Once economic conditions improve, Gainesville City Council members may look for a way to connect downtown to Brenau University.

The city is moving forward with a project to connect downtown and midtown by building a pedestrian bridge over Jesse Jewell Parkway. A bridge to Brenau would mirror the current project, but any plans are far in the future.

"We really need one for students to walk over from Brenau," Mayor Pro Tem Danny Dunagan said after Tuesday's City Council meeting. "That could be the next step once times are good."

Dunagan and Mayor Ruth Bruner casually mentioned the idea after council members zoomed through Tuesday's council meeting in record time.

City Manager Kip Padgett notified council members during the meeting that the city's Redevelopment Authority approved a promissory note for the pedestrian bridge that will cross Jesse Jewell Parkway.

The city received four bids by Sept. 16 for the bridge project, and the Gainesville Redevelopment Authority approved Rogers Bridge Co. of Covington for a total contract of $2.18 million, which fell below the city's original budget of $2.2 million to $2.5 million.

City View, a planned high-rise hotel or office building featured as the keystone of redeveloping midtown, is paying for the bridge. The city will pay up to $3 million for the bridge once a certificate of occupancy is issued for an office building or hotel that will sit in place of the old public safety building.

On Tuesday, the council ratified the redevelopment authority's approval to move forward.

"We've had plans to connect midtown and downtown in the works since 2000," Padgett said. "We needed a way to get across Jesse Jewell and were fortunate to get this public-private partnership to build the bridge."

Construction on the bridge is set to begin this month. Crews are currently moving water and sewer lines near the Georgia Mountains Center to make way for the bridge's foundation and support beams.

Projected to be 450 feet long and 10 feet wide, it will span the four-lane road from the west side of the Georgia Mountains Center to the demolished public safety building area.

Similar to the design on the sign at the demolished site, the bridge will feature a concrete base, metal handrails and fencing along the sides. With a projected six-month contract, the bridge should be complete in August.