TDOT will help complete Elizabethton Riverfront Trail

John Thompson • Aug 9, 2018 at 9:33 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The Elizabethton City Council approved a resolution during its Thursday night meeting that may finally complete a project which has been active for nearly three decades.

The Riverfront Linear Walking/Bicycle Path is an asphalt trail that has been occasionally under construction from the East Side community to Sycamore Shoals. In its early days the path was constructed around Covered Bridge Park and other areas in a series of phases.

During the last fiscal year, the council approved plans for Phase IV and Phase V, which would finally bring the project to completion. But the hope that the end of the long project was in sight was dashed early this calendar year by unexpected costs.

Planning Director Jon Hartman told the council Thursday night that early this calendar year the expected cost to complete the project more than doubled. Hartman said thet increase caused the city staff to “re-evaluate what sections of the trail would be completed.” He said after consulting with the project’s engineers, the city notified the Tennessee Department of Transportation of the city’s intention to decrease the scope of the project.”

Hartman told the council that once the city notified TDOT, the state department said it would be willing to increase the amount of the state grant in order to cover the increased costs. Hartman said that after reviewing the amount of funds currently designated for the project, the city staff determined the city could go ahead wit the project.

The Phase V portion extends from the termination of the existing trail on Race Street to the point where the trail starts along West Riverside Drive.

The Phase IV portion extends from behind Lowe’s Home Improvement adjacent to Overmountain Drive and ends at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park.

The completion date for the project was extended two years, from Nov. 19, 2018, to Nov. 19, 2020.

Hartman said TDOT also is requiring that a revision on all of the many deeds needed for the trail. City Attorney Roger Day is working on those revisions.

The council also approved Hartman’s recommendation to approve a TDOT agreement to make improvements to the traffic signals at the intersection of U.S. Highway 19E and Broad Street.

Hartman said he submitted a letter to TDOT on May 1, requesting that it proceed with the improvement. He said the project has also been included in the last Transportation Improvement Plan of the Johnson City Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization.

Harman said the signals at the intersection have slowly been sagging over the last five years. That has caused the signals to fall below the minimum 14-foot height clearance.

The expected cost of the project is $660,000. A Surface Transportation Block Grant will fund the project, so there is no match or cost to the city.

The council also approved a third contract with TDOT, this one will require expenditure from the city.

Five years ago, the city contracted with TDOT to allow the city access to the TDOT network of the Global Navigation Satellite System for two survey instruments. Johann Coetzee, director of engineering for the city, said the network access enables Elizabethton to obtain survey grade data from global positioning systems. The data is used to compile utility maps in the city’s Geographic Information System.

Coetzee said the new contract requires a one-time payment of $3,150.

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