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SUCCESS! County closes in on signing contractor for first Ecusta Trail leg

Inching closer to shovels in the ground for the first six-mile leg of the Ecusta Trail, Henderson County is expected to sign up a contractor for the project later this month.

“We had a successful bid opening yesterday,” County Manager John Mitchell said last Thursday.
The low bid among five opened at 2 p.m. Wednesday was $9,877,208.57 by Young and McQueen Grading of Burnsville followed by one of $10,126,120 by NHM Constructors of Asheville.
After engineers with the county’s consulting firm for the project and the NCDOT review the bids for compliance with the bid solicitation’s specs, county officials will present a proposed contract for approval by the Board of Commissioners, probably in its mid-month meeting on Sept. 20.
“What I can confidently tell the board and the public is that we do have the funds necessary to move forward,” Mitchell said. “That’s a credit to the Board of Commissioners and other officials that have worked so hard to secure these grants and people of Friends of Ecusta Trail that have raised all this money.”
The county had to take a mulligan on the bid process after the original bid invitation last month drew just two responses — one less than state law requires. The county returned the bids unopened and readvertised.
County officials had been predicting that construction inflation would likely push the project well north of older projections of $1 million a mile, they were relieved to see that the low bid came in under the amount of grant money on hand.
“It’s trending in the direction we anticipated it would trend but with all work that engineers have done on this project I think we’re going to able to present a constructable project,” Mitchell said. “My threshold for this project has been, does it meet the amount of money that has been raised and are we going to be able to move forward? The answer is yes. In my mind, this is a positive development because we got two low bids that are within $200,000 of each other. That’s a good data point in a $10 million project.”
Once the construction papers are signed, joggers, walkers and bicyclists can look forward to two firm dates: the contract calls for “substantial completion” to be done by next Sept. 20 and final completion by Oct. 21.