Cooperation between government entities isn’t something we generally have high hopes to witness. History has proven some tremendous failures in that regard — take intelligence information sharing prior to 9/11 as one rather dramatic example. The public is skeptical of elected officials and many see government waste and inefficiency as the current norm.
That’s why a project underway as a joint effort between the cities of Duluth and Johns Creek, as well as Gwinnett and Fulton counties has folks a bit astounded. These four separate government agencies along with the National Park Service, the Atlanta Regional Commission and Georgia DOT are working together to rehabilitate or replace the old Rogers Bridge spanning the Chattahoochee River.
The goal is to connect the two cities between Rogers Bridge Park in Duluth and the future Cauley Creek Park in Johns Creek with a bicycle and pedestrian pathway. Once completed, in three or more years, the bridge will become part of the Western Gwinnett Bikeway connecting residents from Norcross to Suwanee and beyond.
A federal grant through the Atlanta Regional Commission is helping complete the design phase of the project. The grant provides 80 percent of the design cost, or $400,000, in federal funds, with a 20 percent match, or $100,000, required from each of the four municipalities.
Rehabilitating or replacing the existing 228-foot long steel truss bridge is expected to cost between $4.2 and $5.1 million. Funds for construction have not been approved yet, but the four players hope to access additional federal grant funding with the help of the ARC.
Four different design options were presented for public input at meetings late last month. The most expensive design retains the existing bridge but requires extensive bridge and foundation repairs. The most radical departure from the original design removes the existing structure and replaces it with a wider arched steel bridge.
According to Margie Pozin, Duluth’s City Engineer, “We started with 13 design concepts. Collectively, we were looking for designs that will not impact the river and work toward meeting the needs of all our stakeholders.”
Engineers have been looking at everything including the size and kind of cranes needed to do the work and the environmental impact of construction. Jimmy Garrison, Project Engineer with Development Planning and Engineering firm, dPe, put it this way, “If we don’t get in the water, and don’t have to buy land, we can speed up the process and move toward construction.”
The public is encouraged to help choose one of the four alternatives by participating in a survey online until May 1 at www.duluthga.net/RogersBridgeProject. The survey, like everything about the project is designed to involve as many as possible, and is available in three languages: English, Spanish and Korean.
Engaging the public is just one way leaders are working to ensure the finished project will connect the community. Each city and county has multiple departments at the table including transportation, water resources, and parks and recreation officials.
As Pozin put it, “This is a warm fuzzy project… a really great amenity for the community.”
With a project that is likely to benefit thousands, it is refreshing to see all four entities working together so willingly.