Lewisburg Walkway extension construction starts this summer

Friday, February 17, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

An .89-mile extension of the Lewisburg Walkway along Collins Creek to the Columbia State Community College campus on South Ellington Parkway should be completed by Christmas, according to a project manager with a Murfreesboro-based engineering company who spoke about the walkway recently.

"The construction time is scheduled for 124 days after the contract is issued and we're estimating that at Aug. 17, but of course all that's contingent upon when the contracts are signed and a notice to proceed is issued," said Marty McWilliams, the Wiser Co. project manager assigned to the Lewisburg Walkway extension.

Construction contractors' sealed bids are to be opened at 10 a.m. on March 2 in City Hall. A pre-bid conference is scheduled for the same time and place next Friday morning.

McWilliams anticipates competitive bids.

Prices "are coming in low, in comparison" to four years ago, the project manager said. "Everyone's needing work right now."

Construction crews are to build a 4,733-foot walkway that's four inches thick and six feet wide along Collins Creek. It's to be made of concrete.

"Asphalt runs off petroleum prices and, given today's conditions, the price could spike at any time," McWilliams said. "With concrete you get a longer life span" for the surface.

The walkway extension starts near the railroad underpass.

"This project is being funded out of the Tennessee Department of Transportation budget," McWilliams said. "It's TDOT distributing state and federal money from the Federal Highway Administration with a 20 percent match from the city.

Lewisburg's Walkway was designed by John Gordon who works at the Wiser Co. office in Birmingham, Ala.

"We went out and walked the route with the city," Gordon said, naming Recreation Director Jimmy Stitt and City Manager David Orr.

Their inspection was in early 2011.

"We started at the school, walked around the ball fields, across a field to the existing walkway and considered the best options on where to put it, economically, for the least amount of excavation and drainage. Then we had a survey crew go out" before it was designed.

Designs had to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) so it's handicap accessible, and requirements of the Clean Water Act with regard to stormwater drainage were followed

"The permitting for stormwater was a little more complicated because one of the streams has some extra requirements," he said, noting that Collins Creek is named on what Tennessee state environmentalists call the 303D list, meaning it's suffering some degradation of water quality resulting in its inability to support certain aquatic life or serve uses such as fishing.

"To respect that, we're putting the trail further from the top of the bank of the creek; further than what we might normally do, and we had provide additional erosion controls," Gordon said.

"The only other challenging area was when we went around the outside of some of the ball fields," he said. "We had to go between trees, poles and the ball field fence. While the ball field is flat, past the home-run fence, there's a slope that's pretty steep and what we had to do, to resolve that (prospective erosion issue) was fit the trail between the obstructions and also meet the ADA requirements" to limit walkway hills for wheelchair safety.

"The trail, for the most part, will be at ground level, but there are some places where we will have to excavate to flatten the slopes.

"I think it will be a good link for people to the ball fields," he said.

Mayor Barbara Woods mentioned the walkway's construction bid call Tuesday night during the city council meeting and earlier last week.

"We've waited for it for a long time," Woods said, turning to federal funding. "We were told the money was there. I thought we'd get it last year.

"I think there will be a lot of people who will use it," she said. "I've used it to get to the library to get books."