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Midtown bridge bid comes in below budget
A billboard showing an artist rendering of the completed City View Center with pedestrian bridge stands next to the Gainesville Public Safety Building.

Midtown update

What: Discussion of the pedestrian bridge, new public safety complex and Midtown district
When: 9-10:30 a.m. Oct. 5
Where: Holiday Inn Lanier Centre, 400 E.E. Butler Parkway, Gainesville

Gainesville officials are slowly moving forward with the pedestrian bridge that will span Jesse Jewell Parkway, still holding to the timeline of completing the project by July.

The city received four bids by Sept. 16 for the project and will recommend Rogers Bridge Co. of Covington to the Gainesville Redevelopment Authority for a total contract of $2.18 million, said Tim Collins, assistant director for public utilities.

The low bid falls below the city’s original budget of $2.2 million to $2.5 million for the bridge. The final contract will be awarded in the next few weeks, and the company must complete preliminary actions before it starts “to turn the dirt” in February, Collins said. With a projected six-month contract, the bridge should be built before August.

“The bid was placed as designed, so if you look at the sign on the property there (at Jesse Jewell), it should look similar to that,” Collins said, describing the design as a concrete base, with metal handrails and fencing along the sides. The bridge, projected to be 450 feet long and 10 feet wide, would cross the four-lane road from the west side of the Georgia Mountains Center to Gainesville Fire Station No. 1.

The idea is to connect downtown to the Midtown area, helping pedestrians cross to the City View Center, a planned high-rise hotel featured as the keystone of redeveloping Midtown.

Funding for the project comes from the city’s economic development fund, which is used to stimulate development and growth of the city’s industrial parks. City View will reimburse part of the funding, Collins said.

“As the hotel that’s proposed comes on line and Midtown develops, the bridge will pull everything together. It’ll really unify the whole area,” said Carol Moore, director of the Georgia Mountains Center. “When we have conferences, people can just walk over without having to take their lives in their hands. It’s nice for all of us.”

The Georgia Mountains Center is accepting final bids by 10 a.m. today for a new sign to go with the center as the pedestrian bridge is built.

“The bridge is coming where the current marquee is located, and we found that for the cost of relocating our current sign, we could have a new sign with better technology,” Moore said.

The new marquee, planned for the intersection of Jesse Jewell and Main Street, will feature LED lighting and a “V” shape so all passing traffic can see, she said.

“When we sell tickets, we ask people how they hear about our events, and the No. 1 answer is the marquee, so it’s a critical marketing tool. It’s key that it reaches as many people as possible,” Moore said. “At the last Department of Transportation count I heard, more than 50,000 cars go down that stretch of Jesse Jewell per day. The old marquee has served its duty well. With technology changes, the cost of operating the sign should come down as well.”

The sign will replace three trees in the area, but part of the pedestrian bridge contract includes turf establishment and landscaping around the area.

City officials will discuss additional ideas at a Midtown update meeting 9-10:30 a.m. Oct. 5 at the Holiday Inn Lanier Centre, including updates with the pedestrian bridge, the new public safety complex and the Midtown district. They will also tell business owners about Georgia’s Opportunity Zone tax credit of $3,500 available to Midtown businesses that create at least two new full-time jobs.

“This is all to encourage redevelopment, and these are the tools that we need to put in place to have a resurgence in downtown and Midtown activity,” said Tim Evans, Chamber of Commerce vice president for economic development. “I think talking about these items will generate momentum. I’m excited the city is moving forward with these projects.”

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