City hopes bridge between troubled projects moves forward quietly
Thanks to the amount of money saved in the construction of the TEE Center parking deck, City Administrator Fred Russell says the city is ahead of schedule in building an elevated walkway between the TEE Center and the parking garage.
“We anticipated wanting to do it somewhere down the line, but we actually saved enough out of building the parking deck that we could do this,” Russell says. “And that makes it more palatable at the moment. It’s coming from the savings of the parking deck.”
Russell will be requesting just under $1 million for the connecting walkway at the next committee meetings, scheduled for Monday, December 10. He brought the item to the last committee meetings, but chose to bring it back because of some questions about the feasibility of an electronic sign designed to face Reynolds Street.
“We’ve been talking with the traffic engineer about that,” Russell says. “He’s got some concerns relative to the position of it. I’m not too sure if it’s a Department of Transportation issue or our issue, but it’s something we obviously need to put some more thought into before we go too far down that line.”
Commissioner Joe Bowles warned Russell that he would not tolerate Riverfront LLC, the management company that runs both the city owned parking deck and the city owned convention center, taking any advertising revenue from the sign on the city owned skywalk.
At this point, however, Russell is unsure whether the electronic sign will be part of the final package or not.
“When we talked about it, he was worried about distracting people from the traffic control signage,” Russell says. “You’ve got this thing over the road fairly close to the intersection that would draw the attention and move it away from looking at the traffic control issues, so that’s something we’ve got to take a look at.”
Russell was asked to come up with a plan for the walkway as part of the controversial TEE Center management agreement. In September, he first brought the topic before commissioners who were still questioning whether or not the city owned the parking deck, and while those ownership doubts seem to have subsided, commissioners still seem suspicious of anything involving the two buildings.
In spite of the fact that there would be no need for the city owned walkway to have any kind of management contract, Bowles’ concerns about unusual dealing are not unfounded. Because the convention center is connected to the Marriott, which demands certain safety standards, the TEE Center’s air handling system had to be upgraded, something not all commissioners felt comfortable with. And while Russell doesn’t expect any kind of similar situations, he says he’s come to expect the unexpected.
“I think we’ve got a design where, in most worlds, it would be pretty straightforward,” he says. “In this world, I’m not too sure. I’m sure we’ll find a way to make it somewhat complicated even though I’m not so sure that it should be. People build bridges between parking decks all the time without a great deal of consternation.”
Once approved, Russell says construction should only take a couple of months.
“It’s really not that big a deal, because we’ve already got the receptive ends there,” he says. “Both facilities were built to receive this.” You Might Also Like: