A second footbridge along the Elkin & Alleghany Rail Trail will be installed this spring, but the purchase of the bridge already is underway.
In addition, visitors who may want to travel the trail but are unable to walk it due to restrictions will have a chance thanks to a recent donation by Ken and Patricia Nicks of an electric golf cart for that use.
Bill Blackley with the Elkin Valley Trails Association updated members of the Elkin Board of Commissioners recently on happenings with the trails, with additional information provided by Adam McComb, recreation and parks director for the town.
The bridge contractor, Big R Bridge out of Colorado, has been chosen with a cost of $123,000 for the 178-foot bridge. Additional costs in the project will include installation. The EVTA has been fundraising for the bridge and also has executed a contract for a $200,000 Recreational Trails Program Grant from the state, which will assist in funding the purchase of the structure, McComb reported.
During the Dec. 14 commissioners meeting, the board unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding which will allow the town to be a fiscal agent for the grant funding. The town will upfront the funding and receive reimbursement by the state through the grant, McComb explained.
He also told commissioners Blackley had approached him about the Nicks’ interest in donating an electric golf cart to give access to the trails to those who aren’t able to walk them due to disabilities. Since that time, the EVTA and the Veterans of Foreign Wards Post 7794 were contacted and have agreed to provide volunteers to operate the cart.
A schedule for its availability based on drivers has not yet been determined, McComb reported.
“There will be no increase to our insurance premium, volunteers must possess a valid driver’s license, complete and volunteer waiver and complete a training session,” he said of the requirements for the drivers.
The cart will feature a forward facing bench, as well as a rear seat kit which will allow two more riders on the back, he said.
The commissioners unanimously accepted the donation and approved a memorandum of understanding to outline the details of the donation.
Other updates from the EVTA group via Blackley’s report include:
• Two and a half miles have been completed on the mountain bike trail course being constructed. Three workdays have been held with 1,109 group hours donated and 3,736 individuals’ hours donated. The number of volunteers ranged each day from 12 to 19.
• The 550-foot gravel dust trail being constructed from Elk Spur to Main Street is nearly complete. It includes two peace benches, Lowe’s installing a kiosk and QR code signs being erected.
• Groups in Sparta and High Meadows are spearheading their own trail building projects which will connect to the EVTA’s trail, creating a 34-mile trail when it’s finished.
• Signs have been approved to be erected on Interstate 77 both north and south bound to guide travelers to Stone Mountain State Park. Blackley said area residents have been trying for 25 years to get those signs, and credited Sen. Shirley Randleman with helping secure those.
• The Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail will have its annual meeting in 2017 at The Liberty in Elkin.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.