Macon-Bibb County commissioners will be asked Tuesday to quickly approve a construction manager for the planned pedestrian bridge over Mercer University Drive.
A resolution from Mayor Robert Reichert is scheduled to be added to the agenda for a final vote at the regular commission meeting Tuesday night. It would authorize a contract with Piedmont Construction Group to be construction manager for the pedestrian bridge project at a price of up to $2.8 million.
The money would come from bonds commissioners already approved, funded by future property tax revenue from near the bridge site.
Bidding for construction management on the project closed Feb. 19, and a selection committee reviewed proposals last week, said Macon-Bibb spokesman Chris Floore.
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“It needed to move forward so work could begin, rather than waiting another two weeks,” he said via email. “There’s a fairly tight timeline on this project to be completed in conjunction with the other aspects.”
The bridge will connect Mercer University’s campus to an 8-acre site now under development with student housing, office, restaurant and hotel space. Work is underway on the site across from the existing Hilton Garden Inn. Developer Jim Daws is building the latest phase of his Lofts at Mercer project there, expected to house 313 students. It’s slated for completion in summer 2016 and will have an adjacent 94-room hotel, 400-space parking deck, 14,000 square feet of Mercer office space and room for restaurants, according to Daws and planning documents. Altogether it’s expected to be a $40 million development.
Reichert has long touted a plan to make Second Street a pedestrian-friendly showpiece. The special purpose local option sales tax that Bibb County voters approved in 2011 included $8 million for the project, including a connector road linking Second Street and Mercer University Drive. The additional bonds approved last year included $3 million for the bridge and other improvements in the Second Street Corridor.
FIRE DEPARTMENT LEAVE
Two commissioners propose changing a Macon-Bibb County Fire Department’s policy to allow leave for firefighters if their co-workers are hurt on the job.
Commissioners Larry Schlesinger and Virgil Watkins brought up the resolution, slated to be referred for committee discussion, in the wake of a Feb. 11 house fire that killed one firefighter, Lt. Randy Parker, and injured five more. Parker and the others fell through the house floor into a burning basement. The rest were pulled out fairly quickly, but Parker was trapped beneath debris for more than 30 minutes.
Fire Chief Marvin Riggins has said some firefighters had to use their sick days because they were too traumatized to work.
Some of those firefighters were on scene for hours, and helped extract Parker and the others, Watkins said. But a policy provision that allowed the fire chief to grant paid administrative leave in such situations was left out of the manual when Macon and Bibb County governments merged, apparently by accident, he said. Bereavement leave only covers the death of immediate relatives, Watkins said.
“The guys who took off on the following days for bereavement ... if we don’t do anything for the policy, the guys would be using their vacation time or their sick leave, depending on what they have,” he said.
Riggins tried to grant leave for the affected firefighters but was told by Human Resources that the administrative leave option wasn’t in the policy manual anymore, Watkins said.
The resolution would give the chief an option for up to five days of paid leave in “extraordinary circumstances.”
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.