Walk/Bike Path Over Harahan Bridge Funding Gap

Harahan Bridge

Harahan Bridge

A bit more was learned about the status of the Main Street to Main Street project at the Downtown Memphis Commission board meeting November 21, 2013, where Project Director Paul Morris gave an update as he did the day before at the CCRFC meeting (see below).

Here’s some of what Morris had to say about the funding aspects after the bridge bids came in $5-million higher than expected.

“In addition to trying to lower the cost we’re also trying to raise more money.
The goal is by February we will reduce the cost and raise enough money that they will match. If they do not match, we will not move forward with the project.  That’s obviously not our intent and we fully expect to move forward with the project because we have a lot riding on this as a community. “

“Here’s the bottom line. When the mayor presented the budget to the City Council that was approved for this project, the bridge construction cost  was estimated to be about $16-million. Even with that the mayor indicated that there was about a $4-million gap because of the funding sources available at that point and how much the bridge was going to cost. So that’s a $4-million gap. What the mayor pledged to the City Council was that before we ask you to put a single dollar of discretionary capital money into this project, which by the way the City Council has not done, it’s a City of Memphis project but there is zero discretionarly city capital money in this project. There’s storm water funds from the city which are pledge legally only for drainage downtown, like fixing the flooding in city hall and things like that but so far the city has not put any capital money into the bridge. He said before I ask you for any capital money we’re going to exhaust other sources of funding, we’re going to raise some of that $4-million before we come ask you for a portion of that.

“So we already started with a $4-million gap. When the bridge bid came back at $21-million that’s another $5-million gap. That’s a total of $9-million in gap. So with that bid, which is unworkable, which we’re going to have to reduce, we’ve got a $9-million gap. What we’ve got to do is reduce that number and raise additional funds from different sources. It’s a $9-million gap from what we have locked in and the initial bid we got. But that initial bid is no longer operative. We have rejected that bid, we’re redesigning.”

A board member then pointed out that with the Plough Foundation pledge of $1-milliion, contengent on the rest of the funds necessary to complete the project were raised, the fuding gap would be eight million dollars.

“That’s right.  I should also say that we got an additional allocation of a million dollars from West Memphis that was about two months ago or so…We’ve also raised other private funding, not to the million dollar kind of level, but significant other additional funding. We’ve also many good conversations with private funders who have agreed that they will contribute significant sums of money to this project but they and we have agreed that we would come to them when the bids came back and tell them what the amount we need is so that they can give us a pledge that will get us over the hurdle instead of just giving us some money without knowing if they were going to get us over the hurdle or not. The private fund raising efforts, while I am helping with that and other in the city are, are being primarily led by Charlie McVean and his team.
I should also say the Community Redevelopment Agency recently allocated an additional almost $400,000 to this project…”

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One thought on “Walk/Bike Path Over Harahan Bridge Funding Gap

  1. Thanks for the information. The mainstream media just doesn’t give us enough information to know how our financial interests maybe affected by decisions made in our names by folks like the Center City Commission. Sounds like a prominent project just experienced a 50% plus cost increase that isn’t being “wrestled” with as to its “risk-reward” ration as a public “good.” What’s up with that?

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