Unicoi trail construction rain delayed

Sue Guinn Legg • Aug 19, 2019 at 11:11 PM

UNICOI — Construction of the first link of a hiking and biking trail to connect Unicoi’s Pinnacle Firetower Trail and the Erwin Linear Trail will not begin until sometime next year.

In an update to the Unicoi Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Monday, Jonathan Shipley with engineering firm Tysinger Hampton and Partners said the project is without bidders at this time.

Shipley said when an advertisement for bids on the project resulted in no bids being submitted, his company reached out to contractors who have done similar projects in the past.

He said the conversations revealed that while there is interest in the project among all the contractors, one company representative he spoke to said they were all behind on their current projects because of this spring’s heavy rainfall and are unwilling to take on more.

“The consensus was if it started in late winter or early spring, it would be better.” Shipley said. “From our standpoint, we recommended waiting until January.”

Ask about the status of an Appalachian Regional Commission power grant awarded for the project late last year, Shipley said Ken Rea with First Tennessee Development District has indicated there should not be a problem extending the grant.

In Unicoi, the first leg of the new connector trail will run from the Pinnacle Fire Tower trailhead to the Maple Grove center.

In Erwin, a short northbound extension of the Linear Trail from Fishery Park to Governors Bend has also been budgeted for the current fiscal year.

In other business Monday, Interim Town Recorder Larry Rea told the board resumes for the town’s newly created police chief position are in and are being reviewed by the Tennessee Municipal Advisory Service, which is assisting in the search.

The board also unanimously approved “a common interest agreement” that gives attorneys representing Tennessee’s 1st and 2nd Judicial Districts in a lawsuit against drug manufacturers authority to collect depositions and documents related to the use of public funds in the local battle against opioid addiction.