Imker bid to halt bridge project fails
A bid to halt the design of the widening of the Lake Peachtree cart path bridge fell flat Thursday night.
Peachtree City Councilman Eric Imker said the projected $45,000 in savings would be better spent towards other street, road and cart path improvements. He argued that the bridge widening was not a necessity since the bridge is in fine structural shape.
But he failed to convince his fellow council members; his motion to kill the design failed on a 3-2 vote. The design is being paid for by revenues from the 2005 transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax that was approved by county voters.
Councilman Doug Sturbaum suggested that once the design is complete the bridge could qualify for money from a potential second round of stimulus funding from the federal government.
The bridge has a potential to save roughly $300,000 off its initial cost estimate, with the surplus funds being used to widen the paths leading to the bridge from the City Hall/Library complex, officials have said.
Imker has designs on canceling the entire bridge widening project. Council has not yet voted to authorize construction. He argued that the project is not a necessity but a “nice to have” that the city can afford to delay for several years.
Resident Robert Brown reminded council that if the project is delayed, not only will the current cost savings be lost but the project’s budget will balloon.
“If you don’t build now, the cost of this bridge will be significantly higher,” Brown said.
Resident Andy Jurchenko disagreed, noting the city laid off a significant amount of public works employees last year and cancelled benefits for part-time employees to save costs. Jurchenko said funding the design and construction of the bridge would constitute “poor fiscal management.”
The current bridge is seven feet wide, barely large enough to accommodate a golf cart and a pedestrian side by side, officials have said.
Mayor Don Haddix said he was concerned that the bridge’s narrow width could lead to someone being injured. He also said the project would be more costly if it is delayed.
“When you wait, you pay more and we have seen that on other projects,” Haddix said.
Sturbaum said the city has already cancelled several SPLOST projects for a cost savings of $1.7 million. Imker noted that the city currently has $3.37 million in unobligated SPLOST funds that he wants to use to help balance the city’s budget for the next few years.
“I want to save every penny of that for that purpose,” Imker said.