Greenway project clears final hurdle

One last bureaucratic obstacle has been cleared, which will allow work to begin soon on a connector for the Emily B. Taylor and Ararat River greenways in Mount Airy.

That hurdle involved the authorization of a contract with a construction engineering firm to lead the inspection process for the project, which will provide a 2.2-mile paved trail that will link the two greenways. Its completion will provide a continuous trail system of more than six miles for walkers, runners and bicyclists.

The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday night to approve a contract with Stewart Inc. to provide the construction engineering inspection services. The contract price is $223,692. The connector project is mostly being funded by non-local sources, including a $2.2 million grant awarded by the N.C. Department of Transportation in 2011.

Money for the inspection component was included in the original project budget and does not represent a new allocation.

“NCDOT requires the construction inspection to be performed by an engineering consulting firm — instead of the city, which is what we do on our projects,” city Public Works Director Jeff Boyles explained regarding the mandated oversight by a private independent firm.

Last December, city staff members requested letters of interest from engineering firms to provide the inspection services, to which nine responded. Stewart Inc. was selected after an evaluation process, and the DOT has reviewed the $223,692 cost and found it to be reasonable for the greenway length involved.

“The contractor is ready to go,” Boyles added of Smith-Rowe, LLC, of Mount Airy, to which the $1,591,088 greenway construction contract was awarded by the commissioners in January.

Boyles indicated Monday that City Engineer Mitch Williams is working with the contractor to get the greenway connector started. But an exact date was not available.

Once work begins this summer, the connector will be completed in mid-2016.

In addition to enhancing a local recreational venue, Mount Airy officials expect the project to be a tourism attraction and an economic boost due to the patronage of local restaurants and stores by visitors.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

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