The county awarded a $300,000 contract to a construction company to start work. It could be ready by spring.
WNC Paving submitted the lowest project bid, beating out three other companies to win the job. The cost was lower than the county thought it would be.
However, Jackson County Planning Director Gerald Green wasn’t too optimistic that the surplus would last. Money saved on the greenway construction could get eaten up by the other component of the project, a bridge over the river. The greenway is on the opposite bank from the parking area at one end. The bridge has not yet been bid out, but could cost $600,000 to $800,000.
“We’ll probably be right at budget by the time we pay for the engineering fees and if issues arise,” Green said. “We’re trying to cover everything up front but we like to have a lit bit of contingency in the funding.”
The long-awaited 1.2 mile section of greenway will go from Monteith Gap Road to Locust Creek, and include a trailhead parking lot. The bridge will be put in at the Locust Creek terminus.
When complete, the paved path will mark the first section in a plan for a snaking greenway along the Tuckasegee River from Cullowhee to Whittier. Green hopes the first milestone will build momentum for the remaining sections, some of them held up by landowners unwilling to grant the county access easements.
“We’re excited about it,” Green said. “But we’re hoping that when people see this greenway and use it, that we have more support for a greenway construction.”