Georgetown City Council approved a contractor to complete the design of the Austin Avenue pedestrian bridge at an April 9 meeting.

The overview

Six of the seven council members voted to award Freese and Nichols $2.8 million to move forward with the Concept 2 design of the Austin Avenue pedestrian bridge. Council members selected the design at a March 26 workshop meeting from three concepts presented in August.

The pedestrian bridge will run over the San Gabriel River alongside a vehicular bridge that the city plans to improve and rehabilitate. The pedestrian bridge will cost $18.3 million, with $12.6 million for construction; $5.1 million for the design, construction oversight and miscellaneous inspection services; and $500,000 to build connections to trails, said Wesley Wright, the city’s systems engineering director.

Council member Mike Triggs and two community members said they favored Concept 1, and raised concerns about the increased cost of Concept 2. Concept 1 would have cost $9.5 million to construct with additional fees totaling $14.5 million, Wright said.

The city will earn the additional construction fees through funding from the Georgetown Transportation Enhancement Corporation and municipal utility districts, council member Amanda Parr said.

What they’re saying

Georgetown residents Ken Williams and Tom Colvin said they believed residents favored Concept 1 as a more affordable option.

“That was my understanding—that a majority of people wanted Option [No. 1]," Colvin said. “Why are we not doing what the citizens want?”

Many board members stood by their decision to advance Concept 2. While some residents felt Concept 1 was sufficient, the chosen design made more of a statement in downtown Georgetown, Parr said.

“We’re not building a bridge for this budget cycle. We’re building a bridge for the next 75 years. I think this bridge enhances the character, look and feel of Georgetown,” council member Jake French said.

Triggs, who voted against moving forward with the design, expressed concerns about the bridge’s price, including costs to maintain the bridge, and its impact on birds.

“I don’t think Georgetown has to make a statement, especially at this time with the economic conditions the way they are,” Triggs said.

Also of note

Council approved an amendment to the 2023-24 fiscal year budget to reflect escalated prices for some projects, including $4.5 million in additional costs for the pedestrian bridge and $3 million for the Austin Avenue bridge rehabilitation.

Construction on the pedestrian bridge is expected to begin in December 2025 and be completed in July 2027, according to city documents.