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Pedestrian bridge over river a ‘game changer’
by Joan Durbin
jdurbin@neighbornewspapers.com
March 06, 2013 02:10 PM | 3083 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With $3 million in a federal earmark and a 20 percent match in funds from both Roswell and Sandy Springs, a greatly improved pedestrian bridge over the Chattahoochee River between the two cities is on the horizon.

The bridge, which would be built on the eastern side of the existing Ga. SR 9 bridge for traffic, will increase safety for walkers, cyclists, joggers and even roller bladers and enhance mobility along the SR 9 corridor.

Roswell is the sponsor of the project and Sandy Springs is a partner.

The conceptual design is set to go to a public information meeting in the spring.

In its review, Georgia Department of Transportation suggested widening the bridge from 12 feet to 14 feet, but Sandy Springs declined to participate in funding the extra width, according to Roswell Transportation Director Steve Acenbrak.

That was more than six months ago, and Roswell city officials are hoping their neighboring city will have a change of heart.

Widening the span to 14 feet will lessen crowding on a bridge that is sure to see heavy use, Acenbrak said.

“We think the bridge is going to be such a game changer. It’s going to be very, very busy. There is nothing like it in Georgia over the Chattahoochee,” he said.

The agreement Roswell has in place with Sandy Springs says that the cities agree to split the 20 percent match, with $50,000 from each city for the design of the project and around $325,000 for construction.

At a meeting of the Roswell transportation committee last week, Acenbrak said his staff estimated that the additional two feet would cost around $150,000.

This week, Acenbrak said a more conservative estimate is $175,000.

“For a very modest amount of money, you can add quite a bit of capacity,” he said.

The bridge could come in under budget, which means the extra cost for widening would be absorbed. If it is at or over budget, the cost would have to be borne by one or both of the cities.

City council members at the transportation meeting directed staff to go back to Sandy Springs and “re-engage” in a widening discussion.

It’s been quite awhile since Sandy Springs nixed sharing that cost, Acenbrak said. “We, the city of Roswell, never really were involved in that discussion. Our counterparts at staff level presented it to their elected officials. We don’t know how it was presented.”

To complicate matters, none of that staff may still be on board in Sandy Springs. The pedestrian bridge has been under discussion for a couple of years, Acenbrak said. Sandy Springs ended its contract with CH2MHill for city operations in 2011 and engaged URS Corporation, an engineering, construction and technical firm, to run its public works department, which includes transportation issues.

“Even the faces at URS have changed,” Acenbrak said. “This might have gotten lost in translation somewhere along the way.”

Roswell is “going to try to make our case and be more involved in how they present it to their council,” he said. “At the very least, I’d like to be there when they do so I can answer any questions or clarify anything for them.”
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