Salt Creek Trail paving bids being examined

The Salt Creek Trail continues to take steps toward completion.

The county commissioners took bids under advisement last month to pave a part of the trail that runs through Eagle Park to Brown County State Park.

On Aug. 18, Brown County Highway Superintendent Mike Magner opened four bids from contractors to pave Phase 2 of the trail. Nine contractors had requested and picked up plans and specifications.

Milestone Contractors’ bid was $455,545.45; All-Star Paving’s bid was $498,614; All American Paving & Sealcoating LLC’s bid was $358,909.61; and Monroe LLC’s bid was $298,895.

Magner was going to send the bids up to the project engineers and to the county’s legal team for review, then an award is expected to be made at the commissioners meeting this week.

Magner is the “ERC” (employee of responsible charge), or local point person with the state for this project, which is being conducted in partnership with the Indiana Department of Transportation and Department of Natural Resources.

The Salt Creek Trail is envisioned to link Brown County State Park with downtown Nashville. Planning for the paved, multi-use trail started in October 2002. The first three-quarter-mile section opened in 2013 between CVS and the YMCA, following Salt Creek. It sees heavy use by locals and by visitors seeking a safer way into downtown Nashville than crossing State Road 46.

Funding for the multimillion-dollar trail project has come from the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Some local donors also helped with Phase 1.

Since 2013, the commissioners, the highway superintendent and INDOT have mostly worked on the trail section that’s under way now, between the state park and the school-owned Eagle Park. Eagle Park is where the schools’ softball, baseball, soccer and cross-country facilities are, so, when it’s all connected, students and fans will be able to use the trail to get to their practices and games, too.

Phase 1 ends at the YMCA, and Phase 2 is the section being worked on now, beginning at the state park pool area and ending at the RedBarn Jamboree, going around the back of the Eagle Park property.

Phase 3 will be the middle section, between the RedBarn Jamboree and the YMCA. The route and timetable for that section are not yet known.

Phase 2, between the state park and Eagle Park, was supposed to be completed by the end of last year, but due to a harsh winter, construction was delayed. Now the bridge sections are going through a final check. Paving will begin between the two sections once a bid is awarded.

The bridges used to span the Eel River on State Road 46 in Clay County. INDOT relocated them here at the state’s expense.

Remaining money from the grant used on Phase 2 of the trail will be used to fund Phase 3.

“If we run out of funds, then we call Bob Kirlin and get the Salt Creek Trail Committee back together again and they raise more money,” commissioner Diana Biddle said.

Magner said on Aug. 18 that the contractor would be working on a punch list of tasks before the bridges go through a final inspection.

“If everything is OK, they will start on final paperwork. We are getting very close. They were doing a little bit of concrete work on the one (bridge) by the RedBarn today. The one at the state park is pretty well finished,” he said.

Magner said there was an issue with how the path will go from the bridge on the east end of Eagle Park into the state park. “They put that on delay about two years ago and never made a decision on how to re-route it, so it’s still in limbo on what they are going to do with the connector as to how they route,” he said.

According to Ginger Murphy, the deputy director for stewardship for the DNR’s Division of State Parks, the trail will route through the north gate — the one by the covered bridge.

Murphy said in April that the standard admission rates will apply for anyone who walks or bikes in. Day use for a pedestrian or bicycle rider is $2 for each person over the age of 5. An annual pedestrian and bicycle pass is $10. The regular, annual park pass for vehicles ($50) can also be used by anyone walking or riding a bike on the Salt Creek Trail section in the state park.