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Removal of safety complex to begin
After demolition, construction will commence on new pedestrian bridge
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With Gainesville's fire and police officials settling into their new buildings, plans are quickly moving forward to tear down the old public safety complex and start construction on city's new pedestrian bridge.

The Gainesville Police Department officially moved operations to the new public safety complex on Queen City Parkway on Nov. 1, and firefighters took their final call at Jesse Jewell Parkway's Station 1 at 4 p.m. Wednesday and moved into the new complex.

City officials opened up bids this week for a few pieces of old furniture and office equipment left in the building and plan to sell the extra items before demolition starts in early December.

"The surplus property is basically a bunch of old desks and chairs that were in the building for years and years. The city's other departments got to go through and take items, and now they're up for sale," said Barlcay Fouts, project manager for the new public safety complex and demolition of the old building. "The demolition is about a two-month process where they have to remove asbestos, tile and insulation before doing the regular demolition job."

At Gainesville City Council's Oct. 14 meeting, Fouts explained the demolition will include the two-story building and one-story gun range, abatement of floor tile and pipe insulation, and removal of asphalt and concrete from the area.

Of 11 bids, Tristar of America will demolish the property for $113,000, which is below the city's estimated price of about $180,000.

Once demolition is complete, city officials will move forward with the pedestrian bridge in February, he said.

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, said Tim Collins, assistant director for public utilities.

The low bid for the bridge falls below the city's original budget of $2.2 million to $2.5 million, and the company plans to start laying foundation in February.

With a projected six-month contract, the bridge should be complete before August.

Similar to the design featured on the sign posted at Jesse Jewell Parkway and Main Street, the bridge will feature a concrete base, metal handrails and fencing along the sides. 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.

City View, a planned high-rise hotel featured as the keystone of redeveloping Midtown, is paying for the bridge, and the city will later reimburse up to $3 million once a contract goes out for the proposed 10-story office building and hotel.

Once the pedestrian bridge connects the downtown area to Midtown, developers will focus their attention on attracting proposals for the office building and hotel.

City officials charged with development of the Midtown greenway are also moving forward, hoping to complete the walkway in less than two years for walkers, joggers and bikers.