State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver said Monday night a bid letting for the new Sligo bridge may take place by February.
Weaver made that announcement during the monthly county commission meeting, while giving a legislative update. "Last week, I got together with the State Department of Transportation. I met with commissioner (John) Schroer and his department heads. We talked and continue to talk about Sligo. We have three entities. We have the Corps, the lessee (Sligo Marina), and the department (TDOT) involved. The are right now in the last option or negotiation for the bridge to move forward. As I met with them on Wednesday, that last piece of negotiation was going to the marina. Right now, it is setting on their desk as to whether they are going to accept it or not. The (Sligo Marina) lease (with the Corps) will actually expire in 2013 of January. Basically, if they (marina) are not going to embrace the option or the negotiation of what everyone has given them, then they (Corps) will let the lease expire and the (bid) let will take place as early as February, 2013. That's where we are on that right now," said Representative Weaver.
The state has been ready to proceed with plans to build the new Sligo bridge for months but can't move on the project until a disagreement over right of way acquisition is resolved.
TDOT is in negotiations with the Corps of Engineers and its lessee Sligo Marina, trying to purchase right of way for the bridge.
Although the Corps is the only property owner involved, TDOT apparently has to take into consideration concerns of Sligo Marina, which is located next to Sligo bridge.
According to TDOT Chief Engineer Paul Degges, one of the major concerns is that the marina owners want the state to pay for "potential loss of business"to them during the construction of the bridge. The problem is the state cannot legally pay for those types of damages.
Normally, when an agreement cannot be reached on right of way acquisition, the state can resort to imminent domain proceedings. But in this case, condemnation is not an option because the state cannot condemn federal property.
Representative Weaver said she is hoping the issue can be resolved soon. "When you've got three separate entities involved, it does not go fast enough. It takes time for these things to move forward," she said.