Work to begin soon on 14th Street Bridge plaza, Front Avenue restoration

Work will begin soon on a $1 million plaza at the east end of the Frank Martin Memorial Bridge.

Columbus Council approved the $1.02 million project today. As with the restoration of the bridge, the cost was split 80-20 percent with the Georgia Department of Transportation. DOT will pay a little more than $800,000 and local taxpayers will pay about $200,000.

The price tag will include resurfacing the street between the bridge and Broadway, including a partial median, and a roundabout intersection at the end that will reconnect 14th with Front Avenue. Front has been closed for years between 13th and 14th Streets and has lately been used as a staging area for construction projects in the area, including whitewater and the bridge renovation.

The project was designed so as to have no impact on traffic flow into and out of the TSYS parking garage on 14th, Deputy City Manager David Arrington said.

“We won’t be taking anything away from their ability to exit that garage,” Arrington said. “We’re trying to accommodate what they currently do.”

Reopening Front is a separate project, Arrington said. When it is reopened, it will include replacing an inadequate stormwater system beneath it and it will be straightened out to connect to 14th at the base of the bridge. The stretch of road will include single lanes going north and sough with a turn lane in the center, parallel parking and bike laes along both sides.

That project is still in the planning stage, Arrington said, but he hopes that it can be completed at about the same time the plaza project wraps up.

“There is still a lot what we have to do to get that going,” Arrington said.

Also in the master plan for the area, but not included in the current project, will be an area to be called Mott’s Green just north of the bridge. It will include greenspace, a Mott House memorial to the antebellum mansion that burned recently and a short replica of a section of the old Horace King Bridge that once spanned the Chattahoochee. The covered bridge replica will jut out over the river and end with a viewing deck. But that part has yet to be funded, Arrington said.

Meanwhile, work is continuing on the bathrooms beneath the east end of the bridge. Concrete floors have been poured and plumbing and electrical connnections installed. Internal concrete block walls have been erected and are being painted in preparation for installing the fixtures. They could be ready for use in a few weeks, Arrington said.