Commissioner Jim Cutler, who represents district 3, received approval to appropriate SPLOST funds for a pedestrian bridge connecting The Depot in downtown Ringgold to the adjacent south parking lot across U.S. 41.
Negotiations and plans have been underway for several months. Project architect Ross Andrews of Ross Andrews Inc. in Ringgold said the drawings of the bridge were being reviewed by the Georgia Department of Transportation in order to comply with air space and clearance regulations.
“From what I understand, the city is ready to go to bid as soon as the permits are in place,” Andrews said. “They’re very particular about the thirteen-foot clearance (13 feet, 6 inches). Our bridge will be up and away and higher than the existing railroad bridge, which is eleven feet, seven inches, so people will be completely safe.”
Andrews also said clearance signs and bars would be posted on both sides of the bridge to alert vehicles and prevent accidental impact with the bridge’s concrete floor. Structurally, the bridge will be a prefabricated type of oxidized, non-maintenance steel with arches, which will age into a “rustic train trestle” look over time to compliment the design of The Depot. A handicap ramp will lead the bridge into the parking lot on the south side.
Planners estimate the cost for engineering, permitting and construction to be $192,600, the majority of which will be provided by the SPLOST funds. Cutler said there was roughly $110-120,000 in the budget and the city would cover the balance. City officials are hoping to advertise final plans sometime in August and consider an award by the end of September. They are predicting a six-month construction time.
According to Cutler, not only will the bridge be a “beautiful addition for those touring the city or passing through,” but it will address a serious safety issue regarding access to overflow parking. The Ringgold Depot is rented on average 185 days out of the year for weddings, reunions, concerts, meetings and other events. Such a bridge would provide safe passage for parking, as well as also allows tourists to pass more freely and safely to all the historic sites on the city’s walking tour.
In other business at the Aug. 7 commissioners meeting:
· Sheriff Phil Summers received approval to hire JDH Roofing to replace the faltering roof of the Catoosa jail facility. Summers said the estimated cost is $283,004, and clarified the money would come from a special jail construction fund set aside for repairs, which is supplied by jail fines.
· Chris Simpson, recreational director of the Jack Mattox sports complex, received approval to appropriate SPLOST funds for resurfacing and repairing the complex’s parking lot.
· Catoosa financial officer Carl Henson reported a 2 percent rebate was due to county employees from the county health insurance provider. Commissioners agreed to apply the surplus to the premiums for the following year of coverage, spread over an 11-month period.
· The commission agreed to renew the annual contract with Northwest Georgia Regional Commission for the Meals on Wheels program.