Thursday, October 10, 2013

American Tobacco Trail Bridge Opening Delayed

The long-awaited opening of the American Tobacco Trail Bridge over Interstate 40 has been delayed again.

The public is invited to join American Tobacco Trail aficionados and City and State leaders to celebrate the completion of the trail into Chatham County. While the celebration was initially planned as a ribbon cutting for the bridge opening, the completion of the bridge is delayed due to a combination of construction and design flaws with the safety fence, according to Marvin Williams, director of the City’s Public Works Department.

“The City is as disappointed as everyone else about this delay, but the safety of those using the bridge is always our first consideration,” Williams said. “Despite the bridge delay, the completion of the N.C. Highway 54 southward to the Chatham County line section of the 22-mile long trail is a major milestone of the $11 million project that deserves to be celebrated.”

The event is scheduled for Saturday, October 12 at 9 a.m. in the parking lot of Southpoint Cinemas at the Streets at Southpoint, 6910 Fayetteville Road. Slated to speak, pending the lift of the federal government shutdown, is Acting U.S. Surgeon General Rear Admiral Boris D. Lushniak. Joining him are City of Durham Mayor William V. “Bill” Bell; U.S. Representative David Price; N.C. Department of Transportation Secretary Tony Tata; and East Coast Greenway Alliance Executive Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano.

According to Williams, an issue with the pedestrian safety fencing was discovered during a recent inspection of the posts that are a part of the fencing. The fabricated angle of the fence posts, constructed by an out-of-state contractor, as well as the condition of the factory-installed paint was unsatisfactory. The repairs could cost anywhere from $200,000 to $300,000, but will not be incurred by the City.

“This is an important safety issue, and we can’t open this bridge until corrections are made by the contractor. At this point, we anticipate opening the bridge in December 2013,” Williams said. “We realize that limiting access to the bridge at this time is unfortunate and will be an inconvenience to all users. However, the ability to protect pedestrians as well as properly maintain this bridge for all current and future users is also important, and we ask for patience and understanding as we make sure this gets done correctly.”

Funding for the construction project was provided from a variety of sources, including federal funds from the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro MPO, and the City of Durham Sidewalk Bond fund. Funding for the October 12 celebration is being provided by the East Coast Greenway Alliance, Performance Bicycle, BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina, and N.C Rails-Trails.

“The American Tobacco Trail spans 22 miles across three counties and, once the bridge is opened, will complete the missing link of this important transportation corridor as well as improve users’ access and connectivity,” said Williams. “While we had hoped the bridge would be open for this event, we still feel it’s important to honor all those that helped make this project a reality as well as celebrate the successful work that’s been completed on the trail.”

For information about the American Tobacco Trail project, click here.

About the Public Works Department
The City of Durham Public Works Department provides a wide range of services, including street maintenance, engineering design, development review and stormwater quality and infrastructure maintenance. The department also oversees street resurfacing and sidewalk projects. The department plans and executes the City’s winter weather and natural disaster plans. Public Works serves as a steward of the City’s physical assets and ensures that residents live in a safe, secure, and thriving community. For more information, visit this website.

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