The city is another step closer to completing the next phase of the Rock Creek Greenway expansion, thanks to a vote from the Tullahoma Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
At its Oct. 8 meeting, the board gave the mayor the go-ahead to execute a contract with Curl Construction and Excavating to begin work on new sidewalks that will connect the two newest portions of the Rock Creek Greenway.
Tullahoma Parks and Recreation has been working for the last several years to expand the greenway with funding from a state health grant called Project Diabetes. The $145,000 grant seeks to empower communities to increase their overall fitness by giving them more areas in which to exercise, including extended greenway paths, some exercise equipment and more.
Project Diabetes was a three-year grant project that allowed the parks and recreation department to extend the greenway towards the Southwest portion of town near Food Lion.
According to a memo about the sidewalk construction, the new sidewalks will be constructed along North Collins and Franklin streets by way of West Grundy Street.
This will then connect the West Lincoln shopping area to the City Annex building, which houses the planning and codes department, Coffee County Lannom Memorial Library and the Coffee County Senior Citizens Center.
The two potential bids for the project were opened on Sept. 17. The two bidders were Curl Construction and Prince Utility, LLC.
Curl Construction’s bid came in as the best value for the city and the lowest bid amount at just under $200,000.
The total estimated base cost of the project, according to the bid summary sheet, sits at $197,840, which has been budgeted for in one city account. According to city budget documents, the account is listed as a capital projects fund.
The Prince Utility bid came in at more than twice the Curl Construction estimate, totaling $494,028.10, according to the bid summary sheet.
According to City Administrator Jennifer Moody, the funds come from the $7.5 million loan the city took out earlier this year.
“The portions of the greenway that are constructed along the creek … were paid for by Project Diabetes. The new portions that are connecting those two … are all going to be paid for out of our bond proceeds,” she said.
Using the bond funds will allow the city to complete the sidewalk construction far quicker than if they were grant funded, Moody added.
School sidewalk improvements
In addition to the greenway connection, Moody confirmed that she and city staff are also looking at ways to improve the sidewalks around all the schools in Tullahoma.
The city has previously made sidewalk improvements and additions around some of the district’s elementary schools with a Safe Routes To School grant, but Moody said there were still “gaps” around the schools’ sidewalks that needed to be corrected.
“What I have is actually maps of each school, and we looked at a one-mile radius around each school,” she said. “Then we’ve identified where there’s gaps in the sidewalk network within that one mile.”
Moody said she has also spoken with Director of Schools Dan Lawson about the issue and begun working with the district on taking note of just how many students in Tullahoma walk or ride their bikes to school, which will help her prioritize the sidewalk needs.
These sidewalk improvements will also come out of the bond funds, Moody said, though that doesn’t mean the city won’t continue seeking grant funding for them.
“We’re not going to stop looking for grants to help us fund these projects, but if there are some (areas) that are really high priority we want to see if we can use some of the bond funds to do those projects,” she said.
Just as with the greenway connections, using the bond funds allows the city to complete the sidewalk repairs more expediently than if they were funded by grants.
“With grants, especially [Tennessee] Department of Transportation [grants], there are a lot of reviews and approvals, and it can just take a very long time,” Moody said.
Final approval of all projects will depend on the amount of funding left from the bond proceeds, Moody said.
“We have to get cost estimates and match up what funds we have available, but I’m hoping that we can do one or two projects out of this bond funding,” she said.
Erin McCullough may be reached at email@example.com.