Note: This story was updated at 10:15 a.m. May 15.
The Oak Ridge City Council on Monday unanimously approved an engineering contract for the Rails to Trails project, which would convert a former CSX railroad into a bicycle and pedestrian pathway.
The consulting contract, worth an estimated $358,317, was awarded to A. Morton Thomas and Associates of Kingsport.
The agreement, approved 7-0, is to provide environmental testing, master planning, design and engineering of the trail, and help with construction bidding, Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Director Jon Hetrick told City Manager Mark Watson in a May 4 memo.
There is still much work to be done, including buying the former railroad, and the project might not go out to bid until May 2020, or two years from now, according to a draft timeline presented at the City Council meeting on Monday. And that’s assuming all goes well.
“Design and engineering will provide construction cost estimates and a phasing schedule, along with a basis for negotiating the acquisition of the rail line from CSX Rail,” Hetrick said. “Because the current programmed funding will not cover the entire project cost, the master plan will be used to leverage additional funding for construction from various funding sources, including federal highway and private funds.” [Read more…]