Board sees its way clear to build glass bridge

After countless plan revisions and more than $20,000 spent on a redesign, Mark of the Quad Cities director Steve Hyman is on the verge of getting the all-glass skybridge he envisioned from the beginning.

The Civic Center Authority Board expressed unanimous support Thursday for a proposal by Mr. Hyman to scoop $23,000 out of the Civic Center Authority's capital-improvement budget to pay extra costs associated with an all-glass skyway. An official vote is scheduled for the next board meeting.

``We wanted it all glass to mirror the glass on the front of The Mark,'' Mr. Hyman said. ``This will maintain continuity in design.''

The authority originally budgeted $1.3 million for the project, which will link The Mark with parking at Centre Station, on the other side of River Drive.

Consulting engineering firm Shive-Hattery told Mr. Hyman last year that his idea for an all-glass, curved tunnel, resting lightly on concrete piers over River Drive, would fatten the project's price tag by $120,000. But after doing some research, Mr. Hyman said, he learned the true overrun would be $23,000.

However, work already had begun on the bridge, with Shive-Hattery's less-expensive plan for porcelain panels holding the glass in place as the blueprint.

When Mr. Hyman found out his original idea could be done for almost $100,000 less than Shive-Hattery's estimate, he went before the Civic Center Authority Board to ask it to pay for the all-glass option from its capital-improvement fund.

A 3 percent amusement tax on civic-center admissions trickles money into the fund, created in 1994.

A couple of civic-center board members expressed concern about Shive-Hattery's high estimate.

``We spent a lot of time exploring this initially,'' said board member Dale Iman, Moline's city administrator. ``It appears we were given bad numbers.''

Those aren't the only bad numbers that those working on the overpass project have received from Shive-Hattery, some city and civic-center officials claim. The city may have to dip into its tax-increment financing fund to cover another unexpected overrun because of an apparent error Shive-Hattery made in the final bid specifications.

According to city engineer Scott Hinton, Shive-Hattery's plans called for 80 cubic yards of structural concrete for construction of concrete piers, when in fact the contractor needed 130 cubic yards.

At $600 a yard, that is a change order on the project of $30,000. With the overpass-project budget already at its limit, any change order means finding new funding sources.

Shive-Hattery office manager Myron Schiebe said Wednesday that the various change orders -- including the concrete and glass issues -- typically are handled by the city. He had no comment on the firm's alleged errors.

Civic Center Authority Board chairman Bob Ontiveros suggested it may be time to cut ties with Shive-Hattery.

Mr. Hyman said the overpass is still on schedule. Next week, the ironwork on which the glass will rest is scheduled to arrive, and the gently curved bridge should start to take shape.

``I think people underestimate the importance of this,'' he said. ``There's an obvious boundary with River Drive, and people are concerned about crossing it. I believe this will increase utilization of the Centre Station parking garage.''

600450 Board sees its way clear to build glass bridge
Date: 17 May 2003

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