Ecusta Trail details emerge as engineers reach design benchmark
People who want to walk, bike, skate or jog the Ecusta Trail can whet their appetite by browsing through the images and words of a storyboard produced by the trail’s design team that has just been made public.
The so-called 30% design phase is the important first step in a project’s journey to construction, adding details that engineers will use in the construction bidding process. Some of the tasks completed by the trail design team during the first phase included identifying historic features, waterways and wetlands, fish and wildlife habitats, carrying out surveys flood impact analysis and assessment of design opportunities and constraints. This phase of the design covers the first 5 mile leg of the trail from Busy Bend in Hendersonville to US 64 in Horse Shoe.
The cost estimate is one of the most important parts. That’s now $8.5 million, which includes trail construction, some planting, wayfinding, and mile markers, but not bathrooms, parking, and other amenities.
Here are some other highlights from the new design report:
- Trail width: The designers, Friends of the Ecusta Trail, and the County Rails to Trails Advisory Committee all anticipate heavy use of the trail from Main Street to White Pine Drive. This segment will be the widest, at 14 feet. The trail will be 12 feet wide along the more rural and less traveled leg of White Pine Drive at US 64. “The goal is to provide a trail width that will allow comfortable sharing of the trail by a variety of user types – people walking, running, riding or cycling at all ages and ability levels,” the designers said. There is more than enough room to accommodate the expected width. The right-of-way varies from 37 feet at the narrowest to 123 feet at the widest.
- Bridges: This section of the trail includes six bridges. After evaluating the conditions of each, expected repair costs and the ability to support emergency or trail maintenance vehicles, engineers have concluded that all six will be replaced. During construction, contractors will install pre-engineered steel bridges that will be raised to prevent increased flooding.
- Roundabouts: Two NCDOT projects underway will impact the Ecusta Trail – the Brevard Road widening at Laurel Park and the White Pine Road roundabout and the South Main Street project which will include a roundabout at South Church Street. At Laurel Park, plans call for a temporary but fully functional trail crossing that will be modified when the roundabout is completed. At South Main and South Church streets, the Ecusta Trail crossing will be constructed as part of the roundabout project.
- Crossings: Traffic engineers studied all crossings to determine the type of traffic control, safety measures and signage needed. The solution varies “depending on the speed of travel and the amount of traffic at each crossing and may include items such as traffic lights, flashing warning devices, painted markings on the roadway and warning signs”. On busy roads like US 64 and Kanuga Road, a new traffic light is needed. Crossing the trail on Fifth Avenue West in Laurel Park was determined to require “flashing warning devices that are activated by the presence of approaching trail users,” the engineers said. Crosswalks with lower traffic volumes and speeds, such as South Whitted Street, will have highly visible crosswalk markings and warning signs.
- And after: Engineers and designers proceed to the 90% design stage and then to a detailed set of construction documents. After meeting with project stakeholders, the team will make final modifications and then produce the construction documents needed to solicit bids for the construction work.