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Extra green for county way
Walkway lifts path above flood plain
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Forsyth County News
Forsyth County will spend about $285,000 more than expected on the first three phases of the Big Creek Greenway, two of which opened earlier this month.

The county commission looked over the costs during a recent work session after receiving the final bill from contractors.

Tim Allen, the county’s assistant director of engineering, said most of the changes to the trail were made in the past several months after Big Creek flooded parts of the path.

Some concrete sections of the trail were prone to flooding at certain times of the year. In order to remedy this, Allen said contractors installed boardwalks that rise above the ground, and water, in these areas.

He said those sections cost more than the concrete parts, which raised the price for the two open phases of the trail and Phase 1, which should be ready next month.

The news comes at a time when the county is cutting costs and jobs in the wake of a $6.2 million budget deficit for 2009.

The greenway project, however, is being funded primarily through the parks and recreation bond. Such money can be used only for designated projects approved by voters in February 2008.

The original price of the trail’s first phase, which covers about 3 miles, was $3.7 million. The cost of extra materials has added $84,552 to that.

The cost of Phases 2 and 3, which also total about 3 miles, was estimated at $2.5 million, but the materials change increased that by $200,220.

At least one commissioner questioned the change.

“Is this saying that unforeseen circumstances led to this change order or did somebody quote something incorrectly?” Jim Boff asked county staff.
Donna Kukarola, the county’s purchasing director, said it was a combination.

“When they designed it, they didn’t realize how wet it was going to be during the design period,” Kukarola said.

Allen agreed.

“When we got there to build it, it was under water for half the year,” Allen said. “You don’t want to put a concrete path in an area that’s going to be flooded ... you add 20 or 30 feet of boardwalk here, 100 feet there, to get you through those areas.”

He said the fourth and fifth phases of the trail, scheduled to open in 2011, shouldn’t pose the same problems.

“Those phases have less wetland, flood plain areas,” Allen said. “There won’t be that unknown element.”

After all five phases of the greenway are complete, the project will total 15 miles of winding, nature trails along Big Creek.

“We’ve learned a lot on these projects,” Allen said. “These are the first trail projects we’ve ever built in this county. And through the plan process, it’s a learning process.”