14th Street Bridge opening delayed until October

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comAugust 23, 2013 

The opening of the 14th Street pedestrian bridge has been delayed a second time, this time until October, according to Rick Jones, city director of planning.

Originally scheduled to open on Memorial Day, along with the city’s whitewater course, the opening was first delayed until August by construction challenges. Now, as with the delayed completion of the Sixth Avenue flood abatement project, the soggiest summer in history is at least in part to blame for the second delay, Jones said.

The main reason the original opening date was missed was because engineers discovered that the approach to the bridge on the Georgia side needed to be demolished and rebuilt. That work is nearing completion.

In addition to the summer rains, the second delay is in part due to officials deciding to add public restrooms on the Riverwalk where it passes underneath the bridge, facilities Jones said would be “badly needed” in that stretch of the linear park.

The bridge, once a primary point of access between Columbus and Phenix City, was closed to vehicular traffic in 2000, when the 13th Street Bridge opened. It served as a seldom-used pedestrian bridge for a decade until officials decided to renovate and improve it as a venue for people to watch the whitewater rafters.

The total cost of the project is about $9.62 million, according to city records. About $3.35 million of that came from federal stimulus funds. The remainder came from state Department of Transportation discretionary funds, which require a 20 percent local match. So the local contribution would be about $1.25 million.

That total includes the cost of building of a plaza area near the Georgia side entrance, which will include greenspace.

The Historic Columbus Foundation has planned an annual fund-raising event to be held on the bridge in September. The city will grant them access to the bridge for the event, but it will not be open to the public until October, Jones said.

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