By Tara E. Moore
June 5 After Monday night’s Cornelius Town Board meeting, one thing was clear: Commissioners don't agree on how much to spend on the aesthetic components of the new Diverging Diamond Interchange at I-77 and Catawba Avenue.
Commissioners were hoping a bridge with sizzle could help small business owners as well as "brand" the town as a lake-front community.
A public hearing was held to approve the FY2013 budget, and a big part of the budget is the DDI design above and beyond what the state Department of Transportation will pay for.
Some $200,000 has been set aside in the proposed FY2013 budget for design costs to beautify the bridge and make it at tourist draw for Exit 28. The total cost, though, is far more than that. Currently, $2.4 million is proposed to be included in the FY2014 budget for the aesthetic components of the new bridge which include brick facing, landscaping and lighted, sail-like canopies.
As discussions heated up regarding the DDI, commissioners debated the cost of the design and the various components of the design. Assistant Town Manager Andrew Grant asked the board to approve something — anything — regarding the design, as he has the first meeting scheduled with the DOT on June 20 to get the bridge project under way.
The innovative bridge reconfiguration, which calls for traffic to switch from one side of the bridge to the other, is being paid for by the DOT.
When the process first began, the estimated cost was a whopping $9 million. The bridge design has been tweaked and now Grant estimates the cost of the bridge to be about $2.6 million, a number that didn’t sit well with commissioners Monday night.
Commissioner Jeff Hare commented that he wanted the structure to “stand the test of time.” Mayor Pro Tem Lynette Rinker echoed the sentiments of Hare, commenting that the sails are what make the design unique, although they are probably the most expensive component. Commissioner Dave Gilroy said he would like to see the bridge completed for less than $1 million.
However, something as simple as burying the power lines will cost in the high six figures, commissioners said. The DOT does not pay to bury power lines, or add brick, stone or landscaping.
The question looms: How much money does Cornelius have to spend for a timeless design?
“We’re all wrestling with how much to spend,” said Mayor Jeff Tarte.
Commissioner John Bradford agreed with Rinker when he said the sails “make or break the current design.” However, Bradford surprised the board when he announced that he was not happy with the current design.
Bradford says he intends to find another architect to draft a different bridge design for free.
The general consensus of the board was a concern over the $2.6 million proposed budget for the aesthetic components of the bridge, even though all commissioners seemed to want something that would make Cornelius stand out.
For now, this may be a bridge too far out, design-wise.
Ultimately, the board decided to continue the public hearing to approve the FY2013 budget until the next meeting on June 18 to give the public one last chance for comment. The budget must be approved by July 1, when FY2013 begins.
A copy of the proposed FY2013 budget can be found at www.cornelius.org.
May 30 Mt. Zion United Methodist Church will host Vacation Bible School from Monday, July 29 to Friday, August 2. The camp will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The theme is “Kingdom Rock: Where...
May 31 Bring your picnic baskets and blankets and join us for an evening to Celebrate America with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra! Enjoy children's activities, concessions and more. Symphony in...