The connecting of Mount Airy’s two greenways won’t occur until 2015 at the earliest, but the city government is getting a jump on things by soliciting “letters of interest” from engineering firms to plan and design the project.
That effort began on Aug. 31 and will continue until a deadline of Sept. 28 for letters to be received.
It represents one of the first tangible steps in a project that will link the Emily B. Taylor Greenway on the west side of town with the Ararat River Greenway to the east. Both are used heavily by walkers, runners and bicyclists.
The connector plans were put into motion last year when Mount Airy was awarded a $2.2 million grant for the project by the N.C. Department of Transportation. It has a total price tag of $4.1 million to $4.5 million, with the rest of the funding expected to come from grants and $430,000 in city funding spread out over four years.
In the meantime, the city engineering department has launched the hunt for private firms with expertise in multi-use trail design, survey and layout; wetland and stream delineation; erosion and sediment-control design; and traffic-control plans.
The greenway connector is viewed as a second phase of the Ararat River Greenway that was dedicated in June 2010. In addition to providing a recreational trail, it included a restoration of the badly eroded stream banks.
Under the second phase, which has a construction timetable of 2015-2016, another two-mile segment is to be constructed to connect the Ararat and Emily B. Taylor greenways. That phase also will include one more mile of stream restoration for the Ararat River.
The 2.2-mile connecting segment will be 10 feet wide and extend from the southern end of the Emily B. Taylor Greenway at Worth Street downstream along Lovills Street to its confluence with the Ararat River. The asphalt trail then will proceed upstream along the Ararat and end at the southern point of its greenway. Tunnels will be built under existing roadways along the connector route.
After all engineering firms provide letters of interest, a minimum of three finalists will be identified and one selected after further review.
Along with providing planning and design services, it will administer the construction contract for the connector and oversee the project to ensure all work is performed according to requirements.
City planning personnel also will be seeking property easements from affected landowners along the route.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.