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Dispute delays bike trail
Possible right-of-way encroachment behind jail temporarily halts construction

By Paul Huggins 340-2395

A right-of-way dispute has temporarily delayed work on the second phase of the Dr. Bill Sims Bike Trail.

CSX Railroad indicated it might have erred when it told the city it had a 40-foot right of way along its tracks and wanted time to research whether it had more than 40 feet, said Carl Prewitt, assistant city engineer.

Shelby Contracting had begun work on the $349,000 portion of the trail in March and was on schedule to complete it before mid-July, before halting construction last week.

The stoppage specifically concerns possible right-of-way encroachment behind the Morgan County Jail. The rest of the trail has no right-of-way concerns, Prewitt said.

"I don't think it's a big issue," he said, noting the dispute could get resolved this week. "Worst case scenario would be to adjust the trail a little bit to avoid the right of way."

The trail eventually will link Rhodes Ferry Park along the Tennessee River with Wilson Morgan Park.

The second phase begins at Eighth Street Southwest and Central Parkway and ends at Alabama 20 at the railroad overpass. It follows close to the railroad tracks most the way, crossing them at Second Street Southeast.

The third phase will continue along the tracks and Central Parkway Southwest to Wilson Morgan.

The city obtained two grants worth $240,000 to help pay for both portions of the trail, but one of them expired before the city began work on the third phase.

City engineer Mark Petersohn said the city is attempting to re-obtain that grant and should have the legal plats, easement agreements and cost analysis together in a couple months.

"Hopefully, what we're looking for is to complete phase two in the summer time and then kicking into (the third) construction phase in the fall," he said.

Jay Chesser, Shelby general manager, said even if the dispute continues indefinitely, his crews probably will begin some paving this week on portions other than behind the jail.

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