Last year, the Journal reported that Ginny Rainey of Mills Specialty Metals in Smyrna, the project’s designer at the time, had proposed to the CID installing three 20-foot tall metal arches on the south side of the bridge. The arches would be colored blue and lit with LED lighting. The project would also add decorative fencing and remove rust on both sides of the bridge.
The CID paid Mills Specialty Metals $64,000 for the design, Leithead said.
Leithead said the CID was going to pay the entire $1 million cost, but “when we qualified for the federal grant, the $800,000 federal grant, the federal contribution requires that we use an engineering firm that is prequalified under federal rules … and because Ginny Rainey’s firm was not prequalified with the federal government, that required that we change engineering firms.”
The CID therefore hired Pond & Company for $167,045, an expense the Cobb Board of Commissioners approved Tuesday.
The CID needed the commissioners’ approval because “the county is assisting in administering the project as the project is on a local route over Georgia DOT right-of-way inside of Cobb County,” said Faye DiMassimo, director of the Cobb Department of Transportation.
The project has also been delayed from 2013 to 2015 due to the federally mandated process the CID has to go through.
Leithead said that while Mills Specialty Metals is no longer working on the project, the CID owns the design it bought from the firm.
Switching firms will not increase the project’s $985,000 cost, of which $800,000 is being paid for by the federal grant, Leithead said. However, the finished project may differ from the original concept.
“It will be something along those lines (of the original design), but maybe not exactly that based on what comes out of the engineering,” Leithead said. “That would have been the case irrespective of what firm is used.”
Leithead said that despite the delays the grant has caused, it will be worth it once the project is complete
“We’re establishing an identity and a visual gateway to the district that is appropriate for the largest business district in Atlanta,” Leithead said. “Downtown has beautified bridges at 14th and 17th streets. Perimeter Center has the new bridge across 285 that has a similar treatment in terms of upgraded lighting and upgraded benching and upgraded sidewalks and upgraded safety and beautification, and I think that in a community of our sophistication and magnitude that appearances and aesthetics make a difference.”
More importantly, the 180 taxpayers in the CID who agree to tax themselves an additional five mills in property taxes have an expectation that the district will be improved in such a way that enhances their property values, Leithead said.
“It sends a message that you’re coming to a place where you want to be,” he said.