Bridges, benches and mile markers, oh my!
The first section of construction of the 10-mile recreational trail — called the Tweetsie Trail — between Johnson City and Elizabethton is just ahead of schedule to be finished by Labor Day. With the help of big donations from construction and development companies, Phil Pindzola, Johnson City’s director of public works, said with how things are currently looking Phase I of the project should be complete for the Aug. 30 opening and is well within the abilities of his crews and those putting work into the effort.
“Everything is moving really well,” he said.
An opening day celebration and run is planned for that date, which will include a family-friend celebration at Memorial Park Community Center featuring food and music for participants.
It’s also looking like things are going to be paid for, though he and the organizers involved are welcoming anyone who wants to make a donation to the trail to do so. Pindzola said it was going to be a tight budget through the end of this phase, which brings the trail to Pal’s in Elizabethon, longer than they first thought they’d go.
Dr. Dan Schumaier, chairman of the Rails-to-Trails Task Force designated to plan each aspect of the project, said when everything shakes out the Tweetsie Trail is in the black.
“We’re right at the break-even point to put this in,” Schumaier said.
Pindzola reported to the group Tuesday night at the its monthly meeting that all the big aspects, including the bridges and grading will be complete by early to mid-July. One big change made to the third bridge that spans U.S. Highway 321 is the addition of a canopy over the structure at the recommendation of the Johnson City Police Department for safety reasons for passing traffic.
The remaining time after the big stuff, about six weeks, will be spent on what he called “accents.”
These “accents” will include how to lay out the benches, mile markers and signage.
Three spots where this focus matters most is the entrance near Alabama Street in Johnson City, the Milligan College Depot, a special stop on the trail with benches and also an even bigger structure that will be donated through the Rotary Club at the quarry section of the trail, which is about three miles from its beginning.
The idea, and recommendation from Pindzola and the task force members, was to have the construction of these sites follow some sort of uniformity with the way the stone and brick is used and the style of roofing used on the two structures in Phase I and throughout the rest of the project, which is supposed to carry through to the other side of Elizabethton. Task force members will consider the style of shingle or roofing they’ll use to make maintenance as easy as possible for Johnson City workers in the upcoming years.
Six hundred feet of railing has been put up for safety around the quarry, Pindzola said, which allows for a 10-by-20-foot structure to be put in through the efforts of task force member Mike Mefford and the Rotary Club, which will also be completed before opening day. Pindzola said his job and the job of task force members trying to raise funds to get the project paid for was made much easier through the big donations and help of Mitch Cox Construction, General Shale, Burleson Construction Company Inc., Tupelo Honey Cafe and others.
A press conference about the Tweetsie Trail Trek, the run planned for the opening day, is set to take place today at 11 a.m. at Lion’s Field in Elizabethton to introduce different elements of the event. Anyone interested in signing up for the race can do so at www.active.com.
For more information about how to donate or on the history of the trail, visit www.tweetsietrail.com.
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