By Adam Pack
The Greenbrier County Commission met Tuesday, Oct. 9, to discuss the status of the Meadow River Rail Trail.
Meadow River Rail Trail Coordinator Matt Ford updated the commission on the progress for phases 1 and 2 of the Meadow River Rail Trail project, and discussed the ongoing talks with FEMA over funding for phase 3 of the trail.
Phase 1 of the project deals with the replacement of the Russell Bill Bridge in Fayette County. According to Ford, “The DOH (Department of Highways) is waiting on approximately $280,000 to be released by the county once the FEMA extension request is released.” This grant affects portions of the trail in Greenbrier County, as well, and Ford made note that “discussions with FEMA seem favorable for both Greenbrier and Fayette counties for those extensions to get approved.”
Phase 2 includes repairs of damages done to portions of the trail which were complete before the 2016 flood. In Greenbrier County, bids have already been opened for phase 2, and there was “an apparent low-bidder,” according to Ford. Chapman Technical Group was that bidder, and they have been in communication with the county. Ford relayed that it’s time to hurry up and wait on FEMA.
“We are still waiting on [funds from] FEMA, and we don’t want to put the county under an obligation they can’t meet,” Ford explained. The county has until Dec. 1 to make a decision, as Chapman Technical Group needs time to complete their bonding before the true deadline of Dec. 8.
Phase 3 of the trail will run from Rainelle to Laurel Creek, and will be a continuous trail of approximately 23 miles. The commission motioned to approve a request for qualifications for architect and engineering services, and also approved a resolution authorizing a change of funding to the relevant state project for the Meadow River Trail. That amount comes out to $37,500.
Ford also noted that State Senator Stephen Baldwin requested $75,000 from the state legislature for the completion of the trail, and Ford and his colleagues on the Meadow River Rail Trail Committee have been meeting with officials in both the state divisions of tourism and highways. With these two developments as evidence, Ford concluded that “there seems to finally be some statewide push to get this project done.”