Northend Greenway Update

Unsolicited Bid May Jump-Start Trail Project Proposal Also Includes Blacks Run Cleanup

By TONY BROWN Daily News-Record

HARRISONBURG — An unsolicited public-private proposal may jump-start two long-planned city projects: the Northend Greenway Shared-Use Path and a cleanup of Blacks Run, which runs alongside much of the planned route.

Momentum Earthworks, a Harrisonburg excavating company, last month submitted a plan to build a 0.6-mile section of the planned 2.5-mile shared-use path, which when complete will connect downtown with Eastern Mennonite University.

The proposal suggested including a second project on the city’s agenda: bringing Blacks Run, which is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, into compliance with federal and state sediment and nutrient regulations.

“It’s a good marriage between the two projects,” said Brian Shull, the city’s director of economic development. “It looked good to us.”

Anyone can make an unsolicited proposal to a local government in Virginia, but the government doesn’t have to do anything with it. If a locality is considering accepting the proposal, however, it must then open the project up to competing bids.

That process began last week when the city posted a request for proposals notice. Contractors will have until 5 p.m. March 6 to submit a plan that beats Momentum’s.

The first phase of the shared-use path, which will run approximately from Mount Clinton Pike and Virginia Avenue to near the intersection of Suter with North Liberty streets, will cost an estimated $1.2 million, said Tom Hartman, assistant director of the city Department of Public Works.

Shull said the city has committed $600,000 to phase 1, matched dollar-for-dollar by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Any funds left over from the first phase will be applied to the second and third phases of the project, Hartman added.

The entire paved trail, which will be about 10 feet wide, will carve a roughly crescent shape across the city, following Mount Clinton Pike eastward from EMU to Blacks Run. From there, it will take a southerly tack, largely but not entirely following the creek.

Near downtown, the completed trail will jog to the southwest and end up at North Main and East Johnson streets.

The public-private aspect of the proposal and combining the construction of the path with the creek cleanup caught the city’s eye, Shull said, and could save money and time.

The city has set aside $860,000 to pay for the restoration of Blacks Run alongside the trail, Hartman said.

Hans Harman of Momentum Earthworks was out of the office Tuesday, and he did not respond to email and voice mail messages.

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