A 2013 special purpose, local option sales tax project to stabilize and redevelop Unity Point on the downtown side of the confluence of the rivers in Rome is back on track.

Nearly 20 months after the first round of bids for the project were rejected, the city has contracted with Chattanooga-based CTI Engineers Inc. to develop a new design concept.

“The main thing is we’ve got to stabilize what’s washing away,” City Manager Sammy Rich said.

The company has also been asked to look at a way of including a boat launch, more specifically a canoe, kayak and paddleboard launch at the site to take advantage of the growing number of people who are using the rivers for recreation.

The CTI website, https://www.ctiengr.com/, has photographs of a similar project at the Camp Jordan Park on West Chickamauga Creek in East Ridge, Tennessee.

“We’ve toured some areas where these guys have done some projects and they’ve got a good history of incorporating some pretty unique designs,” Rich said.

The terraced plaza at the point was originally developed in advance of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta.

It was fenced and closed off to the public in 2010 as a result of constant erosion that resulted from the up and down flow of both the Etowah and Oostanaula rivers. Local anglers however can often be seen at the base of the point with lines in the water waiting on a fish to bite.

The 2013 SPLOST package included $1.8 million for the project. However, when it was first put out for bids almost two years ago, the city included an examination of the corrosion on the round center pier support for the Robert Redden Footbridge.

When the bridge was originally a railroad bridge, the bridge rotated on that column to allow steamboats to pass. Rome historian Selena Tilly said it was one of three bridges in Rome that turned on a central pier to allow steamboats to pass. The other two were on Second Avenue and Fifth Avenue.

The examination of that pier ran the two bids for the project right up to the SPLOST budget of $1.8 million.

The city Public Works committee recommended JCH Corp. of Peachtree City for the project because they had done some previous work with the city in South Rome.

The city commission opted to put the project on hold before a vote was scheduled to award the bid in April of 2018.

“There were just too many questions and too much unknown,” Rich said. But the city has a better idea now of what it is up against after re-evaluating the project and issues related to the footbridge are no longer a part of the project.

“We’ve tried to simplify the project and really, I think we’ll be better off,” Rich said.

There isn’t a specific timeline for CTI to come up with a new design.

“Generally speaking they know that this is time sensitive and we’re ready to get this thing wrapped up. Hopefully we’ll some results sooner rather than later,” Rich said.

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