Cumberland CID Bridge project delayed by fed requirements
by Jon Gillooly
September 13, 2012 02:30 PM | 5182 views | 10 10 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A rendering of the upgrades to the bridge taking Cumberland Boulevard over 1-75. (Photo courtesy of the Cumberland CID)
A rendering of the upgrades to the bridge taking Cumberland Boulevard over 1-75. (Photo courtesy of the Cumberland CID)
Tad Leithead - Cumberland CID Chairman  (MDJ FIle)
Tad Leithead - Cumberland CID Chairman (MDJ FIle)
MARIETTA — Strings attached to a federal grant have delayed a $1 million decorative railing project for the Cumberland Boulevard bridge over Interstate 75 by two years, Cumberland Community Improvement District chairman Tad Leithead said.

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.
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Piney Woods Pete II
September 15, 2012
Don't believe a word of this. The CID intended to use federal grant money (your money) for this project from the very start just as they do for all their projects.
Cobb Whiners
September 14, 2012
Congratulations to the CCID for receiving the grant!! If I am not mistaken, the Cumberland CID is one of two areas (Town Center being the other) to see increased property values in Cobb County over the past year. As a business owner in the CID, I appreciate the work that they are doing with MY MONEY!!

September 17, 2012
@Cobb Whiners

You are right.

The CID's have the ability and the right to spend the tax dollars collected from commercial property owners in their district for anything they want as long as it is within the enabling legislation that created them.

However what they primarily use it for these days is leveraging state and federal taxpayer monies for their various and sometimes dubious projects.

This bridge beautification project happens to be one of those.

It is hypcritical and irresponsible to use none CID funding (i.e. $800,000 from GA DOT) for projects such as this.

These type projects should be 100% funded from CID taxes.

That $800,000 could have been more productively used on other more sensible transportation related projects in Cobb County.

Not Again
September 14, 2012
So what is the benefit of this again? With all of the traffic problems we are having they want to spend tax money on a gateway? And people wonder why the T-Splost Failed.
September 14, 2012
The Cumberland CID Board could care less what you say or think.

They are doing what they deem appropriate for the Cumberland area.

They can only spend money in the confines of their taxing district so that restricts them to projects within that district.

If they want to spend it on aesthetics then they have the right to do that.

Where the line needs to be drawn is when they are using state or federal taxpayer generated monies for their "feel good" projects.

This bridge improvement project is a perfect example. A "bridge to far" if you will.

Whenever county, state and/or federal dollars are "leveraged" by CID dollars they should be restricted to projects that add valuable basic infrastructure.

If the CID's want to make things prettier they should be required to use 100% of their own money.

Be Careful
September 13, 2012
My hat's off to Specialty Metals for sucking $64,000 out of the CID for arches with LED lights on them. My 9 year old grand daughter could have "designed" that in 10 minutes.

It's so easy to spend someone elses money. It's a tremendous waste of money. But, if the "members" of the CID volunteer to pay the money, that's up to them.

The real shame is using federal funds (citizen's tax money) to help pay for it.

They can say all they want about creating a "gateway". I guarantee you the average person driving on I75 is not even going to notice, let alone realize it's a gateway.
September 13, 2012
Let's see $64,000 for design (which they may or may not use) and an additional $167,000 to complete the design and engineering plus the in kind services of the County DOT to "help" administer the project.

So a total (so far) of at least $231,000 for design and engineering on a $985,000 project or more than 23% of the estimated cost.

Seems a bit much in A/E costs to me.

Of course what do they care, they are getting $800,000 of taxpayer funded dollars to help build a "visual gateway" to their privately owned property.
Cobb Taxpayer
September 13, 2012
Waste of government money - why not ALLOW Cumberland Club to pay 100% - they derive ALL of the benefit ?
Just Wait
September 13, 2012
What a huge waste of money.
September 13, 2012
That's what happens when you get federal funding involved. they can probably count on the cost going up significantly also.

Pretty soon they will probably regret having accepted the federal money.

Hopefully the original design will not be "downgraded" to federal standards or they will end up paying $1M for another rust stained piece of crap that we see straddling many of our expressways all over the state.
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