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Eastham Park Trail's phase two near completion

Victor Atwood Jr. , an employee for Warren County Parks and Recreation Department, walks through A railroad tunnel that is part of the second phase of the Eastham Park Trail. The second phase, which connects to Skyline High School, has a projected cost of $342,291. The county has received two transportation grants to cover 80 percent of the project. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

By Alex Bridges

Pedestrians and bicyclists should see the next section of Warren County's Eastham Park Trail finished by the end of the month.

The county contracted with Strasburg-based Kickin' Asphalt this summer to build phase two of the project. The first phase of Eastham Park Trail follows a path along the South Fork of the Shenandoah River south to the Norfolk Southern Railroad. The second phase adds approximately a half mile to the existing trail, beginning at the railroad track and curving around the southern end of Skyline High School. Phase two ends at Skyline Vista Drive between Skyline High School and U.S. 340-522.

Grants and Special Projects Coordinator Brandy Rosser said this week that the contractor has completed installing the concrete under the Norfolk Southern Railroad trestle that crosses the South Fork of the Shenandoah River.

"They are working on some drainage issues along the entire length of the trail," Rosser said. "We expect that to be wrapped up in the next week or so."

Kickin' Asphalt could begin paving by the end of next week or the beginning of the following week, Rosser said.

The county discourages the public from trying to use the unfinished section of the trail as it remains a construction zone. No trespassing signs have been placed near the trail site warning people from entering the section.

"We're hoping, I would say by the end of the month, we'll have absolutely everything tied together and start getting ready to have a ribbon cutting so we can get people out there. Any time the railroad's involved you expect a little bit longer of a time frame," Rosser said.

The county recently began environmental reviews for phase three, which extends the trail from Skyline Vista Drive to the corner of U.S. 340. The project calls for the addition of a sidewalk from Criser Road to the area near the 7-Eleven. The plans also include upgrades to the intersection at Skyline Vista Drive and U.S. 340 that allow users to enter Shenandoah National Park.

The county may advertise and seek bids from companies for the third section of the project next spring or summer, Rosser said.

"I would say that if everything runs smoothly we should be able to do that construction in the fall of 2014," Rosser said.

Grants have covered most of the trail's construction cost.

The Virginia Department of Transportation had awarded two enhancement grants to the county for phase three. The cost for phase two came in slightly higher than expected, Rosser said. The county went to the Commonwealth Transportation Board and received the agency's approval to transfer some of the money awarded from phase three to two. The county then applied for and received a grant to replace the funds used to cover the cost of the second phase.

The construction cost for phase two of approximately $342,291 includes the contract price of $278,291. The total price of $278,291 includes $253,884 in federal funding committed to the project and the required local match of $63,471, according to Rosser. Design costs and in-kind services provided by the county's Parks and Recreation Department staff will cover the local requirement, Rosser explained.

The county's engineer for the project estimated the cost of phase three at $303,716. The county received two grants that cover approximately 80 percent of the project expense, Rosser said. The county will know the actual cost of the project when it advertises for bids.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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