Work on a rail trail in the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter will start in March following approval of a contract for the work this week, city officials said.
By the spring of 2017 it should be possible to walk or bike through the Innovation Quarter from Martin Luther King Jr. Drive on the north down to Rams (Stadium) Drive, crossing over Seventh, Fifth, Fourth and Third streets along the way.
Eventually, the trail will connect to the Salem Creek Greenway that runs alongside the creek of the same name, making bike trips possible to Marketplace Mall on Peters Creek Parkway to the west and to Salem Lake to the east.
For the immediate future, construction is proceeding in two phases: Rail Trail North, from MLK to Third with constructions managed by the city, and Rail Trail South, from Third to Rams Drive, with construction managed by the Innovation Quarter.
The Winston-Salem City Council on Monday approved awarding the contract for Rail Trail North to Smith-Rowe LLC of Mount Airy in the amount of $3.96 million. But the company could earn another $1 million of work on the project if the city goes ahead with construction of a stairway to give the rail trail access from Fourth Street, where the trail will cross over a bridge.
“The money is there” for the additional work, said Alan Temple, the city’s manager on the project, adding that the city will wait to make sure the actual trail doesn’t cost more than budgeted before considering work on the stairs.
“We don’t want to pull the trigger and then find out we need that million dollars to correct unseen soil conditions,” Temple said.
The contract calls for construction on Rail Trail North to wrap up by April 2017. The rail trail will run on a former rail bed to the west of an existing Norfolk Southern line that is not in use. The city will have new bridges for the rail trail built over Seventh, Fifth and Fourth streets.
Temple said the bridges would resemble other greenway bridges that made of steel with weathered wood for flooring, and that they would have decorative lighting for night use.
The trail will also be provided with benches, trash bins, a drinking fountain and bike racks. Users of buildings in the Innovation Quarter such as Inmar, 525@Vine and the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s medical education building and others will have direct access to the trail.
The city is using a combination of state and federal money to fund Rail Trail North, with the city and the Innovation Quarter each contributing $400,000 toward the cost.
Meanwhile, Eric Tomlinson, the Innovation Quarter president, said plans are in the works to award a contract for Rail Trail South assuming the project gets a green light from the state. The project would include crossing Third and Fogle streets en route to Research Parkway, where the route will follow a widened sidewalk already in place on the west side of the road.
The project has changed from earlier versions and now includes an extension along Rams Drive and Salem Avenue, consisting of sidewalks widened alongside the street.
Tomlinson said that work on Rail Trail South could be completed by the fourth quarter of this year if all goes well.
Tomlinson said the rail trail projects, plus the eventual extension to Salem Creek, would provide a biker or pedestrian with “22 miles of continuous walkway” to explore.
“We are delighted,” Tomlinson said. “It has been some time coming, and we are looking forward to getting the work underway and completed.”
- The renovation of Union Station, a project unrelated to the rail trail, also got a boost from the council on Monday when the city awarded a contract for phase one, consisting of demolition and other work totaling $945,000.
The contract was awarded to R.P. Murray Inc. of Kernersville. The work consists of removing fencing and debris from historic parts of the site, removing exterior utility connections and carrying out a variety of tasks inside the building to remove equipment, piping, walls and fixtures that aren’t part of the renovation. The company will also carry out asbestos abatement.
When finished, the renovated building will house transportation offices and have other office spaces, as well as a train station waiting room restored to its original appearance as a historical exhibit.
A second phase, the renovation proper, will get underway when the demolition and other prep work is finished.