Bidding is next step for Yadkin trail project

Published 12:04 am Friday, March 18, 2022

SPENCER – Spencer’s Yadkin River project is nearly ready to go to bid so construction can start.

Project architect Jeff Ashbaugh told town officials he is reviewing final construction documents.

Spencer Special Projects Planner Joe Morris said the next step will be to share information with the Board of Aldermen and then go to bid.

“There’s not any real requirement about that, it’s just good governance to communicate with your elected officials about what you’re doing,” Morris said. “We’re really close to going to bid on it.”

He said the goal is to go to be in April or May and begin construction in June or July. He said he does not anticipate a long build time, estimating 120 days to complete the project.

“That is all within the context of all the issues related to supply chains, cost of fuel, availability of labor, all those things are sort of unquantifiable and very unpredictable,” Morris said.

The project is delayed in one sense because it was originally slated to move ahead sooner, but Morris said functionally it is a year ahead of schedule because rather than breaking the development into phases by building trails and then adding amenities on its side of the Wil-Cox bridge, the town is attempting to build the entire project at once.

“We used the time during the pandemic to plan,” Morris said.

The town has more than 80% of the funding on hand to build the entire project and is awaiting news on if it will receive a $100,000 trail grant from the N.C. Parks Service that would put the town at about 100% of the funding it needs. So far the money has mostly been raised through private donation.

Morris said if the town does not get the last piece of funding it could cut some amenities like parking and a shelter from the project and build them later on, but that will be a decision for the Board of Aldermen. They could pursue other grants, private donations or pull the money from town savings to make up the difference.

However, Morris pointed out the cost of construction has inflated since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The town started exploring the project before the pandemic began.

The town board has repeatedly signaled its support to build the trail head as well as a planned park on Salisbury Avenue in front of the new town hall and Morris said he is optimistic about a high-quality project.

The town has more than $420,000 on hand and the estimate for the project is $560,000, but that number was produced at the beginning of the design process.

“The market will tell us what it can really bear,” Morris said, adding there will be a conversation on cost estimates based on Ashbaugh’s review of the construction documents.

Spencer Mayor Jonathan Williams said he is committed to the project one way or another and pointed out to date the town has had minimal investment of its own money.

“I am fully confident the funding will be there in one way or another,” Williams said.

He said costs have increased but the reality is costs are not likely to decrease to pre-pandemic levels. Williams, an engineer, said given his line of work he would not be surprised if bids come back higher than the town hoped.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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