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Jackson County approves additional greenway bridge costs

jacksonJackson County commissioners approved moving forward with the installation of the Locust Creek pedestrian bridge even though the cost is higher than expected.

The bridge, which will cross the Tuckasegee River near Cullowhee and allow visitors to access a 1.2-mile section of the greenway, is going to cost the county almost $1.3 million.

The cost is more than double the original estimate of $641,000, but commissioners decided to approve the bid during last week’s meeting. 

“The bridge is already built for this specific need so our options are limited,” said Commission Chairman Brian McMahan.

Contracting company Phillips & Jordan have already completed the construction of the bridge — a cost of about $300,000 — but it’s the engineering work that has driven the cost up more than anticipated. Unstable soil and the presence of sewer line access points for the Tuckaseigee Water and Sewer Authority on the site will require additional measures. 

Micropiles — thick, strong, steel bars injected into the ground — will have to be used to stabilize the soil and tall retaining walls will have to be constructed to allow TWASA continued access to the lines. The bridge also has to be built 14 feet above ground level to be out of the 100-year floodplan, but it will be ADA accessible, according to County Manager Chuck Wooten. 

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Wooten said Phillips & Jordan came in with the lowest price for the work out of four contractors who bid on the project. The $1.3 million project will be paid for with a N.C. Parks and Recreation Fund grant, $212,000 from a Duke Energy grant and the remaining 67 percent of the project cost will come from the county coffers. 

The board approved the low bid from Phillips & Jordan and approved moving $500,000 from the county’s general fund to the conservation recreation fund to pay for the unexpected cost of the project. The high-arch bridge is 190 feet long. The six pieces of the bridge will be assembled on site within the next few months.

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