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Construction soon for trail linking parks

– The long-awaited trail between Johnny Appleseed and Shoaff parks got a little closer to reality Wednesday.

The Board of Public Works approved an $87,582.63 engineering contract with DLZ for the project. Greenways Manager Dawn Ritchie said construction will be bid out by the Indiana Department of Transportation on Jan. 9.

The 1.6-mile trail is expected to cost about $700,000 and will connect the current loop around Shoaff Park to the rest of the trail network, running down the west side of the St. Joseph River south of St. Joe Center Road to the Venderly Family Bridge at IPFW.

In other business, the board approved a $296,979.60 change order for a sewer project.

The Becketts Run Relief Interceptor project, which is replacing 13,000 feet of sewer lines up to 54 inches in diameter from the St. Joseph River to Auburn, Wallen and Coldwater roads, was contracted at $5.92 million. The change order brings the price up to $6.22 million.

About 1,000 feet from the end of the project, contractors ran into a low area that had been filled in with stumps, trees and debris from construction of a nearby neighborhood, raising excavation costs, Engineering Support Services Manager Mike Kiester said. They also ran into swampy soils that forced removal of 100 feet of pipe to replace it with pipe in steel casing to keep the wet, flowing dirt from crushing it.

“They had a huge excavator that was almost lost,” Kiester said. “It was half buried up to the cab because of these poor soils.”

Even with the 5 percent increase in the price, officials said, the project cost is still below what engineers estimated it would be.