Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 20, 2013

City finalizes pedestrian bridge project


---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A new pedestrian bridge and walkway that will cross the Boardman River and connect the downtown with the city’s developing warehouse district will have to bisect a parking lot to meet West Front Street.

City officials this week ended efforts to obtain plots from the owners of J&S Hamburg restaurant and Federated Properties LLC to create a better alignment for the bridge and sidewalk. The walkway was slated to be part of Federated Properties’ proposed brownfield redevelopment on West Front Street, but that project collapsed.

City officials hoped to develop a landscaped walkway just east of the J&S Hamburg parking lot to connect with West Front Street at Pine Street, but could not reach an agreement with either owner.

“We had good conversations with both of them and they were both open to discussions,” said city Manager Jered Ottenwess. “It was just a combination of what they perceived the value of those properties to be and their future development plans.”

The new alignment will follow a narrow swath of city-owned property and along the east side of the J&S Hamburg building, then north through the restaurant’s back parking lot over the Boardman to city-owned property. The back lot currently connects parking and driveways for J&S on both sides of its building.

“It’s the less-ideal configuration,” Ottenwess said. “We’ll work with J&S on the design to try and minimize some of those conflicts.”

Officials with J&S Hamburg and Federated Properties did not immediately return calls for comment.

The estimated $1.3 million project will be funded by the city’s Downtown Development Authority and Traverse City Light & Power. The city-owned utility will use the underside of the bridge to run a new electrical circuit to served the south side of downtown. The need for the new circuit has driven the bridge schedule.

The circuit is part of $1.8 million in underground line project the utility planned along Pine and State streets. But without the bridge project in hand, the underground line work didn’t make financial sense and the utility was prepared to run overhead lines instead, said Tim Arends, TCL&P executive director.

“It’s a very important reliability project for the city,” Arends said. “We can’t wait.”

Both projects are scheduled for completion in 2014.