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Council clears way for Four Pole Creek bridge

September 26, 2018

HUNTINGTON — Huntington City Council members on Monday agreed to allow a Bridgeport architectural and engineering firm design a bridge going over the Four Pole Creek pump station, connecting two sections along the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health.

Meanwhile, members of the city’s Administration and Finance Committee refrained from voting on a U.S. Housing and Urban Development “Choice Neighborhoods” master plan for Fairfield until more information could be learned about how the Chicago firm with the winning bid was selected.

The proposed bridge would connect two levee trails from Westmoreland into West Huntington, between West 28th Street and West 31st Street. Council members approved a resolution permitting Mayor Steve Williams to enter into an agreement for the design of the bridge.

The only firm to make a bid was the Thrasher Group of Bridgeport, West Virginia, for $69,500. Money to fund the design comes from a Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) grant and does not use any general fund money, City Planner Breanna Shell said. The West Virginia Division of Highways also agreed to match those funds up to 80 percent using money from toll booth credits, she said.

The Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, also known as PATH, is a bicycle and pedestrian trail system in Huntington with more than 18 miles of trails. It was created in 2006 to connect Huntington’s parks and to provide safe alternative transportation routes throughout the city and surrounding areas.

It was named after Dr. Paul Ambrose, a promising young physician who was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The Huntington native was an advocate of preventative

medicine to fight obesity and worked on family health issues.

The proposed bridge would go over the pump station at Four Pole Creek and connect levee trails at the Cabell and Wayne county line. As of now, people on the levee trail near West 31st Street have to get onto Auburn Road to go over the creek, before crossing back to the trail near West 28th Street. The proposed bridge would cut that distance by nearly half.

During a meeting of the city’s Administration and Finance Committee, members tabled a resolution awarding a winning bid to a Chicago-based urban planning firm to put together a master plan for the U.S. HUD “Choice Neighborhoods” in Fairfield.

The federal program brings community stakeholders together to “create and implement a plan that revitalizes distressed HUD housing and addresses the challenges in the surrounding neighborhood,” according to its website.

Kim Bailey, the city’s director of purchasing, said funds are available and have been set aside in the budget from the Choice Neighborhoods Grant and no general fund dollars would be used toward the master plan.

A five-person committee of stakeholders recommended awarding the design of the master plan to Chicago-based firm Camiros, Ltd. The committee scored Camiros higher than Huntington-based firm, Edward Tucker Architects, Bailey said.

There were several determining factors that led to the selection of the Chicago firm over the local firm, Bailey said, including familiarity with the project, past performance and knowledge of the history of the Fairfield community.

Camiros wants $233,000 for the project, while Edward Tucker Architects asks for $365,055.

Bailey said the selection committee wanted Camiros because of its past work, even before they knew an asking price. Committee members tabled voting on the resolution until the next meeting so Bailey could provide more information about how Camiros was selected. Council member Alex Vence said it’s important to know what exactly will be in the master plan since it involves tax dollars. Council member Jennifer Wheeler said she’s concerned the selection committee’s scoring put the local firm at a disadvantage because of its higher asking price. The selection committee gave a “zero” to Edward Tucker Architects for fairness of price. She wondered if there is an economic impact in not selecting the Huntington firm over the Chicago one.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.

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