Officials Reach Agreement on Supplemental Funding for ATT Phase E Projects

In a September 14th meeting, the Durham-Orange Transportation Advisory Committee considered several options for additional funding and have opted to use ~3.5 million$ from a reserve fund which had been set aside to cover cost overruns, small and county transportation projects, and initiatives for Triangle Transit. An earlier proposal to reallocate funds that had been set aside for future sidewalks in Durham was turned down after serious concerns expressed by Durham representatives. Officials from the two counties agreed it made sense to use the reserve given that the tobacco trail’s completion has been threatened by a budget shortfall. “It’s a regional project that affects the central part of the State, and we need to move forward,” Durham City Councilman Mike Woodard said, after Mayor Bill Bell and Councilwoman Diane Catotti had also signaled support for using the money. The decision must now be approved by the Durham/Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization. Some changes to the specifications for the bridge are being considered such as allowing the contractor to have 18 rather than 9 months to assemble components for the bridge. No date has been set for start of the second bidding but if MPO approval can be settled in 30-60 days this could happen by the first of the year. It now appears construction will not start until sometime in the Spring.

First Annual Ales for Rail-Trails 5K

North Carolina Rail-Trails, perhaps our closest sister organization, will be holding their first annual 5K race in downtown Durham on October 9th. The race starts at the Fullsteam Brewery at 4pm and will include a short section on the American Tobacco Trail. Race proceeds will benefit the advocacy and rail-trail development efforts of North Carolina Rail-Trails. Registration can be through Active.com or by check.

10/11: Race results are now posted on the NCRT site and pictures will be posted soon.
10/19: Initial pictures now posted on NCRT's Facebook Page.

Bull City Open Streets Event --October 9th

Bull City Open Streets (BCOS) will hold their fourth and final 2011 event on Sunday afternoon October 9th. The roads along Central Park and around Durham Athletic Park will be closed to car traffic, making active transportation easy and safe. Event highlights include: dance classes, bicycle powered smoothies, scavenger hunt, food trucks, skate demo, cake-off and much more. For background info, please see the Open Streets Facebook page.

Durham Plans to Push Forward on Bridge for American Tobacco Trail

Durham has received and reviewed the bids for completing the ATT in Durham County. The lowest bid totaled some $7.7 million, ~2million more than costs estimated and funding available for the project. The City Manager and top staff are examining options to allow the bridge over I-40 and trail sections connecting the bridge to be contracted for soon with the balance to be done in a later phase starting in 2012. Additional funding from Durham may be obtained from dollars currently budgeted for sidewalks and greenways. Other funding from non-highway projects requested by the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro MPO will also be explored. Coordination of such arrangements with NC DOT will be needed as well as approval by the City Council. An award date for the contract has not been estimated but could occur by October.
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Since August 6th, NC DOT has decided that Durham must rebid the project. We understand that the construction drawings will have to be broken out into two documents (for each phase), and each will have to be approved by NCDOT again before bidding can start. Tentatively one phase/project will be the bridge itself as well as the trail from NC54 to Renaissance (the approaches), and the other phase/project would be the rest of the trail. This breakout is tentative and may change as the construction drawings are revised. For more on these more recent events please see this August 10th Herald-Sun article http://www.heraldsun.com/view/full_story/15002546/article-DOT-to-city--T... and a short piece from the the N & O's Bullseye Blog http://blogs.newsobserver.com/bullseye/tobacco-trail-bridge-delayed-again-0. Further status info can be found on the City's page on the American Tobacco Trail Project http://www.durhamnc.gov/departments/works/project_am_tob_trail.cfm
In late August, Durham City staff announced pending efforts to shift ~$3.8 Million from four Durham sidewalk projects to the Phase E project for the ATT. This shift must be approved by the Durham-Chapel Hill/Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization as well as by Durham's City Council. Further detail on this proposal can be found in a http://www.heraldsun.com/view/full_story_news_durham/15206013/article-Ci... August 22 article in the Herald-Sun. On August 28th a member of a key advisory board says Durham officials need to look harder at why the bids for an extension of the American Tobacco Trail came in about 38 percent higher than expected. The $2.1 million overrun ..."indicates the possibility of a serious error in judgment" by the engineers who designed the project and the city staffers who worked with them, said Toby Berla, a member of the Durham Open Space and Trails Commission.

Herndon Connector Trail Nearing Completion

Several years ago TRTC identified that users of the South Durham section of the ATT were often unaware that restrooms were available only a short distance from the trail at Herndon Park. As many users had asked us about facilities there and elsewhere on the trail we took action to try raise resources for construction of an all- weather path from the ATT to the Herndon building. Last year we were successful in getting a State Adopt-A-Trail grant and generous donations from the Carolina Tarwheels and the Tobacco Road Marathon. Construction of this 8' foot wide concrete walkway was completed in early June and is being used already. It is located ~600' north of Scott-King Rd. on the west side of the ATT. There is still some work remaining on the drainage basins and 1 small culvert but these should be done by late July. We're working to get signs to let trail users know of this new short cut to the restrooms. Take a look at some recent pictures of this fine new amenity.

 

Recent Status of Permitting and Approvals for Phase E of ATT

(ATT south of NC 54 and bridge spanning I-40)

Durham's Public Works Department web site has reinstated their posting of summaries of the project's status. The final permits have now been obtained and the Request for Proposals were released in early June. Opening of the formal, sealed bids is now scheduled for July 13th and a contract should be signed by early Fall. Construction is expected to require 1 year.

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